Mayor Adams promised Wednesday that when it comes to New York City’s pending budget, he “will not compromise public safety.”
“That’s not going to happen,” he said during a news conference in the Bronx. “Public safety is the foundation of the city. That’s what the taxpayers say. That’s what my businesses say. That’s what everyone is saying. We want to be safe, and I’m not committing to that.”
The mayor was responding to criticism from council president Adrienne Adams, who a day earlier criticized the NYPD for exceeding budget on overtime spending and failing to adequately explain why at a recent hearing.
The speaker, who is not related to Mayor Adams, said during an interview Tuesday that she agrees with the premise set forth by the Council’s Progressive Caucus that community investments, such as housing and mental health services, should take precedence over NYPD expenses.
He also noted that the city needs to “control” the spending of NYPD overtime and that “no other agency could get away with this.”
“We are very concerned and we are going to have to take a serious look at this,” he said.
The mayor’s strong support for NYPD spending is nothing new. But his latest comments come amid budget negotiations with the City Council and amount to drawing a proverbial line in the sand, as the possibility of a showdown with the speaker and other council members looms over proposed cuts to agencies. such as the Parks Department and public libraries. .
Mayor Adams was asked about those cuts on Wednesday and said that “it is misinformation to say that we are making cuts.”
“We have asked all city agencies to look at efficiencies,” he said, stressing that those requests were intended in part to eliminate vacant positions. “I think the libraries are doing an amazing job. We told them we want them to focus on openings and efficiencies” while trying to avoid layoffs and “making sure we don’t cut service delivery.”
But Queens Councilwoman Tiffany Caban, a Socialist Democratic member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, said it is “simply untrue” for Adams to claim she is not cutting funding for the library.
“Talk to the librarians. Talk to people in libraries. They are saying that they cannot deliver the services. They are saying they can’t open on Saturdays because (management) is going to cut the positions they need,” he told the Daily News.
Caban also argued that Adams’ budget is “not pro-public safety” because he argued that it prioritizes spending “unnecessary” police overtime over investing in social services.
“Libraries are public safety, funding housing is public safety, funding social services is public safety,” he said. “Every dollar that goes to fund unnecessary overtime is a dollar that doesn’t go to (those initiatives).”
At his news conference in the Bronx, Adams acknowledged the difficulties finding efficiencies pose for city agencies, but noted that the $4 billion bill he hopes will ultimately be tied to handling the immigration crisis by part of the city.
“That money will come from somewhere,” he said. “There is a financial crisis that we are facing. So I understand what they are saying. I respect that, but I need all my agencies to focus on how to weather this storm.”
Still, Adams’ first budget proposal this year kept projected NYPD spending steady, a fact progressive lawmakers have focused on.
For starters, City Controller Brad Lander launched a report this week which found that the city has already spent more than $98 million on its NYPD overtime budget in 2023 and will nearly double its overtime budget once the fiscal year ends.
When asked about the extra police time, Adams said Wednesday that the extra money spent will go toward keeping subway trains safe, one of his and Gov. Hochul’s top concerns.
He suggested that much of the overtime is funded by state and federal funds that are specifically earmarked for subway safety and the city’s broader economic recovery.
“Our city must be safe. I have never strayed away from it,” she said. “That is the basis of the economic recovery and stability of the city.”