By Katie Honan 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that he and his staff will take one-week furloughs, saving the city about $1 million as it faces a budget crunch and considers laying off 22,000 government workers.

Mr. de Blasio said 495 mayoral staffers would have to take an unpaid furlough between October and March. The furloughs, along with cuts in the current fiscal year budget, have reduced the mayor's office's budget by 12% compared with last year, the mayor said.

Further belt-tightening could be needed if state lawmakers don't grant the city the power to borrow up to $5 billion or the federal government doesn't provide additional financial relief in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic, the mayor said.

The New York state Legislature hasn't acted on the mayor's borrowing request since he first asked in May. Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain far apart on a new relief package similar to one approved in the spring.

"Right now we don't have that support, and we have to keep making tough choices to keep moving our city forward to keep our budget balanced," Mr. de Blasio said at a press conference.

The city faces a $9 billion deficit over the next two years. Revenue has been down significantly since the pandemic hit the city in March.

The mayor has warned that he would have to lay off 22,000 city employees if the city can't find new funding sources. The layoff process was expected to begin at the end of August, but the mayor temporarily delayed the process after unions representing government workers asked for more time to push lawmakers on borrowing power.

The city began a phased reopening of its economy in June after months of lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Even now, many businesses are acting at only limited capacity, and most companies have been slow to have workers return to Manhattan offices.

Budget cuts made at the end of June have led to reduced services that have impacted quality of life. At the same time, crime has surged in the city during the summer.

Write to Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 16, 2020 12:25 ET (16:25 GMT)

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