Never mind his rosy presentation: De Blasio is leaving Adams with a looming fiscal nightmare

bill de blasio, city budget, editorial, government spending, pensions, pre-kindergarten

Mayor Bill de Blasio is leaving a nice parting gift for Eric Adams by inflating the city budget. Karla Cote/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s trying to present his November budget re-estimate as rosy, but it actually has the makings of a fiscal nightmare for the incoming Adams administration. Billions in additional federal funds have ballooned the city’s FY 2022 budget from an eye-popping $98.7 billion to an even more stunning $102.8 billion — an amount equal to the entire state budget for Florida, which has more than twice Gotham’s population.

Although the new plan reduces the coming-year gaps to “only” $2.9 billion, $2.7 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively, the Citizens Budget Commission’s Andrew Rein points out that the shortfalls are actually $750 million greater each year because the plan includes “illusionary labor and attrition savings.”

The federal assistance is supposed to cover the costs incurred by the city’s pandemic response and recovery from Hurricane Ida. But de Blasio is using some of it to fund the expansion of pet projects such as pre-K for 3-year-olds, mental-health programs and nonprofit support. Many new costs will likely continue forever, but the extra federal aid is a one-shot.

Nor does de Blasio deserve any credit for trimming the gaps: A soaring stock market helped the city reduce its projected pension contributions by $5 billion over the next three years.

Meanwhile, revenue from tourism and other sources is not likely to rebound quickly. Team Adams won’t have much time to make the hard decisions on balancing the budget and negotiating new labor contracts.

As Rein puts it, “Eric Adams has his work cut out for him.”

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