New York, New York

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New York is a city in New York. It is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the United Nations Headquarters, New York is an important center for international affairs and is widely deemed the cultural capital of the world. The city is also referred to as New York City or the City of New York to distinguish it from the state of New York, of which it is a part.

Located on a large natural harbor on the Atlantic coast of the Northeastern United States, New York City consists of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. With a 2010 United States Census population of 8,175,133 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles (790 km2), New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The New York City Metropolitan Area's population is the United States' largest, estimated at 18.9 million people distributed over 6,720 square miles (17,400 km2), and is also part of the most populous combined statistical area in the United States, containing 22.2 million people as of 2009 Census estimates.

Budget

The budget for fiscal year 2012 totals $66 billion, and includes the restoration of funds for many schools, libraries, and social programs. Council members voted 49-1 to approve the budget, which was negotiated between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn after nearly $60 million in concessions from teacher unions. The budget taps a $3.6 billion surplus from the previous fiscal year as well as $700 million from a retiree health benefit trust. Expenditures are 4.6% higher than the previous year's budget. Deficits for the years 2013 and 2014 are still expected to remain around $5 billion. It included no new taxes.[1]

The City's budget process operates by Fiscal Years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. The City Charter gives responsibility for drafting an expense and capital budget to the Mayor. These budgets must then be submitted to the City Council for review and approval. City budgets are made up of several parts. The expense budget lays out proposed operating appropriations, as well as debt service. The capital budget sets proposed appropriations for four years of capital projects. A revenue budget must lay out estimated city revenues. The city is required to maintain a balanced budget according State law accounting practices.[2]

Public employees

Elected officials

City Council

New York City's legislative body is the City Council, made up of 51 members from 51 council districts in the five boroughs. The Council's duties include monitoring the operation and performance of city agencies and making land use decisions. It has sole responsibility for approving the city's budget, legislates on a wide range of other subjects. The Council is an equal partner with the Mayor in the governing of New York City.[3] Most council work is achieved in committees. Proposed legislation is first considered in committee. Each council member serves on at least three committees, and assignments are made by the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections and voted on by the entire Council.[3]

A full list of City Council members can be found here.

A Council Speaker is elected by the entire body, and the position of Minority Leader is chosen by the members of the next largest party.[3] The current speaker is Christine C. Quinn.

Mayor

The current mayor is Michael Bloomberg. He was elected to his first term in November, 2001. Upon entering office, Mayor Bloomberg took control of the city's school system, removing power from the school district.[4] Mayor Bloomberg won an unprecedented third term in November, 2009, after the City Council eliminated term limits that would have limited his time in office to two, four-year terms.[5] Bloomberg was estimated by Forbes Magazine to possess a net worth of $17.5 billion.[6]

Public Advocate

New York City residents elect a public advocate to serve as a watchdog of the city. The Public Advocate is an ex-oficio member of all City Council committees, with the power to introduce legislation. The current Public Advocate is Bill De Blasio.[7]

City Comptroller

The City Comptroller serves as the city's Chief Financial Officer. The Comptroller acts as an advisor to other elements of the City government, manages the assets of the city's pension funds, audit agencies, performs budget analysis, and registers proposed contracts. The current Comptroller is John C. Liu, who took office in 2010.[8]

Administrative officials

A list of key members of the Bloomberg administration can be found here. A full list of city agencies can be found here.

Salaries

Employee salaries are posted online by The Empire Center. In 2009, the ten largest annual employee salaries in the city ranged from $311,907 to $234,269.[9]

In 2011, it was reported that one city sewer engineer was paid a total $775,000 in 2010. The payment came as a result of a wage settlement with the city, on top of his salary of $109,850 a year as well as $173,000 in overtime pay. The absence of an agreement between the city and sewer engineers since 1995 resulted in retroactive pay hikes once an agreement was made in 2009. After the pay hikes, six other Department of Environmental Protection employes received over $700,000 in pay. Thirteen made over $600,000, and 47 earned between $400,000 and $600,000.[10]

Healthcare

City public employees currently do not contribute to their healthcare costs. If they were to contribute 10 percent, which state workers contribute, the city would save nearly $1 billion annually.[11]

Pensions

See also: New York public pensions

2012

New York City public pension plan NYC’s earned a 1.37 percent return on investments in the last fiscal year, well below the expected return of 8 percent.[12] The failure could cost taxpayers up to $1.5 billion to cover the costs.[13]

2010

According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, New York City is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[14] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[14]

In 2010, it was revealed that in 14 cases the city continue to pay pensions to deceased public employees, which totaled to more than $450,000 in pension fraud.[15]

Municipality
(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
NYC (5) 155.8 214.8 92.6 122.3 276% 38,886

Lobbying

NYC Lobbyist Search is an online, searchable database maintained by the city that contains information about all lobbyists registered with the City of New York and their clients.[16]

Transparency and public records

The New York City police retirement system recently denied a Freedom of Information request made by The Empire Center for the names of city retirees receiving pension payments. While all other city pension funds complied, the police fund argued that names of retired officers should be withheld for security reasons. The police fund's actions were endorsed by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Huff in a recent decision.[17]

In 2009, the city Comptroller's office set up "Clearview," a website containing access to information about City contracts. It contains information on more than 90,000 contracts, and is updated nightly.[18]

As part of a new City Council initiative to increase accountability, initiatives and programs receiving budget funding under Schedule C classification will contain an indication of the sponsoring city council member.[19]

Street signs

The city is being forced to replace all its street signed because of a new regulation by the Department of Transportation which says the city needs a new font and not to use all capital letters. The renovation will cost the city $27.3 million.[20]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of New York city websites
Grade2.pngB
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials P
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public Records Y
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Local Taxes Y
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Current and past budgets are available through the City Council's webpage.[21]
  • Council meeting schedules, agendas, and meetings are available.[22]
  • Contact information is available for the Mayor; names and contact information are available fir City Council members on individual webpages.[23][24]
  • Phone and fax numbers are provided for some Administrative Officials.[25]
  • Zoning and permitting information is available through the Department of City Planning.[26]
  • Current and past audits are posted.[27]
  • City contracts are posted and information regarding procurement is available.[28][29]
  • Freedom of Information Law request form is available, along with contact information for the Freedom of Information Office.[30]
  • Local tax information is available for businesses.[31]

The bad

  • Telephone numbers and email addresses are not provided for all administrative officials.
  • Information is not provided on the City's lobbying activities.

See also

External links

References

  1. "New York City Council Approves $66 Billion 2012 Budget Restoring Teachers," Bloomberg News, June 29, 2011
  2. Budget Process and Calendar
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 About the City Council
  4. Biography
  5. "Bloomberg Wins Third NYC Mayor Term, Beats Comptroller Thompson," Bloomberg News, November 4, 2009
  6. "America's Top 10 Richest People," Forbes Magazine, October 19, 2009
  7. Role of the Public Advocate
  8. Comptroller
  9. Employee Salaries, City of New York, The Empire Center
  10. "City sewer engineer paid $775k in 2010, more than any NYC employee; thousands of workers get backpay," New York Daily News, September 6, 2011
  11. New York Post, City's unhealthy loss, Nov. 9, 2010
  12. NY Post, NYC pension funds big Liu-sors, Dec. 30, 2012
  13. CNBC, Why New York City's Pension Funds Fall Short of Market Gains, Dec. 31, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 MacIver Institute, City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study, Oct. 12, 2010
  15. New York Daily News, Fraud suspected as dead city retirees continue to collect pension checks, Sept. 27, 2010
  16. NYC Lobbyist Search
  17. "The public has every right to know the names of pensioners it pays," The New York Daily News, October 24, 2011
  18. Clearview Overview
  19. Budget Schedule C
  20. New York Daily News, New Yorkers outraged as bureaucrats order city to change lettering on every single street sign, Sept. 30, 2010
  21. Budget
  22. Calendar
  23. Contact the Mayor
  24. City Council
  25. Key Members of the Bloomberg Administration
  26. Department of City Planning
  27. Bureau of Audit
  28. The City Record Online
  29. Clearview
  30. Freedom of Information Law (FOIL))
  31. Taxes and Payments