Budget Deal Spares FDNY Firehouses

Twenty fire companies across the city are being saved in a $63 billion budget deal.


Twenty fire companies across the city are being saved, while six-day library service will be slashed to five in a $63 billion budget deal struck late last night between Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council.

The agreement restores $395 million to avoid some of the steep cuts the mayor imposed in the fiscal 2011 budget, which takes effect Thursday.

But city agencies still have to cope with $1 billion in other service reductions.

Between five and 10 senior centers will close -- down from 50 the mayor originally had proposed.

Only a handful of the 33 day-care centers threatened with closure will be eliminated, council sources said following a ritual handshake between the mayor and Council Speaker Christine Quinn in City Hall at 11 p.m.

"I think it's fair to say we faced up to our responsibilities as well as to financial realities," Bloomberg declared, repeatedly drawing contrasts to Albany, which is more than two months late in its budget.

The mayor cautioned that New Yorkers will feel the impact of reduced resources.

"I think we should not underestimate the billion dollars in cuts we've made. Some of these cuts are going to be painful," he said.

"We think we'll be able to avoid cutbacks that would be destructive to New York. So pain, yes. Serious damage, no."

The council now begins the frenzied process of wrapping up the details of the various restorations, as well as doling out pork to its members.

It's aiming for a formal vote on the budget Monday, said Finance Committee Chairman Domenic Recchia Jr. (D-Brooklyn).

One of the council's biggest restorations is the 20 fire companies, at a cost of $37 million.

"The people who respond to a terrorist attack first should not be the first to be cut, and this budget recognizes that," said Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens), chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

The restoration is dependent on 60 firetrucks going from six to five firefighters and the removal of fire-alarm boxes, which requires approval from the council and firefighter unions.

Hundreds of city workers will still face layoffs, but far fewer than the 1,600 predicted just weeks ago, Quinn said.

Republished with permission of The New York Post.