The NYC Budget process is underway. Through multiple rounds and hearings with agency officials and the public, the Mayor and the City Council create budget versions that fund public priorities for the next fiscal year. Last year, the city's expected revenue dropped due to the global pandemic affecting our whole city. This year, things are starting to look back on track, and with new federal stimulus funds, this year's city budget is set to be the largest in city history.
Here's what we at New Yorkers for Parks have observed about the budget and how it relates to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, or NYC Parks for short. We invite partners to draw from this information to testify on behalf of parks and open spaces during the last opportunity for public opinion in this year's budget process.
LAST CHANCE TO TESTIFY
NYC Council Executive Budget Hearing
Tuesday, May 25, 10 AM
Register to testify virtually live by Monday, May 24, 10 AM
Submit written testimony by Thursday, May 27, 10 AM
KEY PARKS BUDGET POINTS
- NYC Parks suffered a 14% budget cut, amounting to $84M, in FY2020. This left NYC Parks dramatically under-resourced.
- The loss of seasonal staff, PEP officers, and gardeners, along with a hiring freeze, has been devastating for parks workers trying to cover the 14% of NYC land that is under NYC Parks jurisdiction.
- 2020 parks conditions were the worst on record since NYC Parks began recording them in 2004. The biggest issues were accessibility (parks and comfort station closures), safety, and park conditions (trash, etc.).
- NYC Parks is chronically underfunded and understaffed: there are not nearly enough City Park Workers, Gardeners, Urban Park Rangers, or PEP officers. 300+ PEP officers are expected to patrol 14% of NYC – in the summers, they’re pulled to waterfronts and large parks suffer from overuse and lack of oversight.
- NYC cannot replace parks workers with volunteers – NYC needs a fully funded and fully staffed Department of Parks and Recreation.
- The proposed budget does not return to pre-pandemic levels: staffing levels, the Parks Equity Initiative, and basic maintenance like tree pruning/sidewalk repair/tree stump removal/invasive species control are not addressed.
- Restoring the NYC Parks budget is the bare minimum. The majority of these positions are not baselined, which means they must be renewed every year by elected officials and do not guarantee parks workers their jobs. We need to move beyond a cycle-to-cycle funding model. 1% or more of the city budget must be for NYC Parks.
- There remains a hiring freeze at NYC Parks leaving permanent staff nearly 200 short – a huge issue.