Brooklyn BP releases ‘Real Recovery NYC’ plan
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 01, 2020 | 1163 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To address the three crises of police reform, public health and economic recession, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams unveiled a plan last week called “Real Recovery NYC.”

The report lays out the mayoral candidate’s vision for managing the city’s recovery by proposing cuts to specific expenditures, creating new tax credit programs, and reducing the city’s $9 billion deficit.

“The crises we have been faced with over the past few months have not put other crises in our city on hold,” Adams said. “If anything, they have exacerbated them.

“The demand for basic necessities like affordable housing, access to health care, jobs with decent wages, a law enforcement apparatus that protects and serves on an equitable basis, and so much more is even greater now,” he added. “And vulnerable communities are disproportionately those with the greatest level of need.”

In the police reform portion of the plan, Adams notes that diverting wasteful spending from the third-largest agency operating budget “is essential to combating our deficit.”

However, taking units out of the NYPD and moving them to another part of city government “is not achieving the mission at hand.”

“The mission at its core is defunding reactive policing,” Adams, a former member of the NYPD, said. “For me, for so many reasons personal and not, it’s natural that a plan begins here.”

According to the report, approximately $200 million in savings can be achieved by “strategic civilianization” of NYPD units. Adams said civilian positions are not only less costly to the city, but they tend to be held by black and brown public servants who live in the five boroughs.

Some units that the borough president said could be civilianized include the Barrier Section, which puts up barricades for parades, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI), the CompStat Unit and instructor ranks at the Police Academy.

At the precinct level, Adams proposes making the roles of crime prevention officer, integrity control officer, property clerk and telephone switchboard operator civilian positions.

To address the issue of overtime pay, he proposes transferring more officers to enforcement-related duties.

He also wants state lawmakers to authorize digital processing of policing paperwork and digital appearances for administrative court proceedings, which would cut “unnecessary overtime” accrued by cops reporting to court.

“Technology has made it possible to conduct some of these routine proceedings digitally or to carry out desk responsibilities remotely,” he wrote.

The final NYPD reform asks the mayor and police commissioner to commit to forensic audits and transparent reporting of costs by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with a focus on contracts for equipment and technology. Adams also proposed more restrictions on funds the NYPD receives from the federal government.

To address inequality, economic woes and health care disparities worsened by the pandemic, Adams has proposed a slate of programs that would be paid for using savings from the NYPD cuts.

The first idea is a Heroes Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). According to the borough president, the city currently provides a 5 percent match to the federal EITC program. Increasing that match to 30 percent on a one-time basis would allow individuals making up to $100,000 and families making up to $150,000 to benefit from the tax credit.

Another is a state-imposed data sales tax on multi-billion dollar technology companies that “profit off our personal data.” The revenue would be spent on addressing inequities in health care, financial servings and jobs training.

To provide relief to small businesses, Adams has proposed a new five-chamber back office assistance program, run out of each borough’s chamber of commerce, to provide services to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and other small businesses.

To seed economic development, Adams wants more investment in green infrastructure projects. To do this, he said the city should explore a municipal bond program for projects that create wind power, grid efficiency, transit infrastructure or retrofit solid waste processing to handle organics.

Other proposals in the Real Recovery NYC plan include creating a local bank network to address capital needs, open job training and financial assistance centers in storefronts, and incentivizing companies to hire locally.

On the health care side, Adams wants to establish a “Health NY” tax credit, which would allow New Yorkers who qualify for the EITC to get an additional $500 return on their city income taxes by achieving health milestones throughout the year.

Milestones would include getting a free annual check-up, membership in a subsidized healthy foods program, meeting with nutritional experts and participation in free, safe and organized exercise provided by the city.

Other ideas include training and deploying an community health workers, partnering with community and faith-based organizations, creating a connected online platform for telehealth services and opening health centers in public housing complexes.

“True change and improvements to financial and physical health will occur when New Yorkers who need help are identified by the city and delivered help proactively,” the proposal reads. “The city cannot wait for these New Yorkers to come to them. We must bring the city to the community.”

The third part of the report deals with closing the $9 billion deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. Adams said the most responsible approach is preparing for cost-saving initiatives at different levels, which would allow cutting the city’s workforce and services as a last resort.

The borough president said he’s also against borrowing to pay for the city’s operations because it would only “delay even greater pain.”

In the first tier, which would reduce the deficit between $1 billion and $3 billion, Adams would ask agencies to engage in budgetary review to find 5 to 10 percent in savings.

He would also create a committee of government officials and outside fiscal experts to submit a report to the mayor and City Council suggesting specific savings.

Other ideas include identifying city workers who can work from home flexibly, developing a plan to exit unnecessary leases for office space, and reforming contracting rules for better monitoring of vendor performance.

For the next tier, which could save $3 to $6 billion, Adams proposes reducing the overall city workforce through attrition by not replacing workers for a year. He would also eliminate positions “filled by political appointees who serve in advisory of administrative functions,” which would include roles at City Hall, City Council, borough presidents’ offices and the public advocate’s office.

To save the city between $6 and $9 million, the borough president would temporarily furlough city workers who qualify for unemployment benefits while still providing benefits.

Another measure would be increasing agency cost savings by an additional 3 percent by eliminating positions based on an analysis that identifies positions most and least necessary to the health and safety of vulnerable New Yorkers.

In the final tier, which would cut the deficit by $9 billion or more, Adams would establish an ultra-millionaire’s tax by creating a new top city income tax rate tier for residents making more than $10 million a year.

He would also support a pied-a-terre tax on secondary homes or apartments in New York City worth more than $5 million. Those proposed taxes would also require state approval.

“Our plan provides a roadmap for how we can recover the right way, centering justice and equality,” Adams said, “and beginning to undo historical wrongs that have plagued our city since long before coronavirus arrived on our shores.

“The months and years ahead will be challenging for our city,” he added, “but by adopting smart, forward-thinking policy solutions, we can rebuild New York stronger, fairer and more just for all.”
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