Many City Council members are raising objections to the $59.1 billion budget the council adopted late Sunday night at City Hall, as leaders of social service organizations said it unfairly slashes funding for groups working with elder, young, and other New Yorkers.
Speaker Christine Quinn, who reached a budget agreement with Mayor Bloomberg on Thursday night and sealed the deal with a kiss and a handshake in the rotunda of City Hall, said Sunday that it is "not a budget any of us wanted to pass."
Council members who voted in favor of the budget expressed frustration about the cuts and argued that they didn't have to happen in a year when the city has a surplus. Several members blamed the mayor.
"There is nothing much to celebrate tonight. Many of my constituents will be badly hurt by what we are passing tonight. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the richest man in the city of New York: Mike Bloomberg," Council Member Letitia James of Brooklyn said.
Despite the objections voiced by council members, the budget was approved by a vote of 49 to 1, and officially adopted at 11 p.m.
Council Member Charles Barron of Brooklyn cast the only vote against the budget. Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. did not attend the meeting.
Council Member John Liu of Queens said he was not surprised by the late vote, taken after council members questioned a Bloomberg budget official appearing before the council Finance Committee Sunday night. "The agreement is as shaky as it gets," he said.
Earlier in the day, representatives from 50 local groups stood on the steps of City Hall to protest the cuts, saying they will decimate services for some of the city's most needy residents.
"This is administrative Katrina," the executive director of the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Ngozi Moses, said. "The levees are already broken and we are holding them up with our hands."
Officials from service organizations estimated they would need an additional $70 million to $100 million from the city to keep their programs intact.
They argued that when the council shrank its discretionary funding by 39% this year, to $185 million, it wasn't cutting back on "pork" in the city budget, but slashing community centers, health programs, and senior centers.
The cuts will mean, for example, that the city will lose 1,600 summer jobs and shrink funding for HIV-prevention programs by $5.5 million, to $7.8 million from $13.3 million, service providers said. They said they don't yet know the full scope of the cuts because budget details for the council's discretionary funding, listed in a budget document called Schedule C, were released only late Saturday and they hadn't had time to get through them.
In addition to funding for local organizations, it lists the council members who directed the funding toward a specific group, which is known as a "member item" in the budget.
An analysis of member items by The New York Sun found that the amount of funding set aside for pet projects earmarked by members ranged between $80,000 for Council Member Tony Avella of Queens, who is Ms. Quinn's fiercest critic in the council and is a candidate for mayor, and $985,000 for Council Member Lewis Fidler of Brooklyn, the council's assistant majority leader.
Council Member Michael McMahon of Staten Island, a Democratic candidate for congress, collected $950,000 for his member items, and Council Member Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn, who had planned to run for the same seat but abandoned his bid in early June, collected $880,000. Mr. Vallone collected $852,500 in member items, Council Member Leroy Comrie of Queens pulled in $741,000, and Council Member Inez Dickens of Manhattan collected $625,000. The chairman of the Finance Committee, David Weprin of Queens, collected $625,000 in member items.
That funding does not include the $151,714 nearly all members of the council directed toward youth programs and the $108,750 each set aside for aging programs.
Ms. Quinn, who has final say on the member items, said many factors are taken into account when she decides how to allocate the money. The distribution of the funding is considered a powerful way the speaker can reward allies in the council and punish political enemies.
"You get more if you play along more and you get less if you don't play well," a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, Douglas Muzzio, said.
Correction from July 1, 2008:
1,600 is the number of summer jobs a social service advocate said would be lost due