Yesterday was the release of the annual report of cost-cutting suggestions filed by the Independent Budget Office, the nonpartisan, publicly agency, whose report shows both the pros and cons of certain suggested measures. While many of the ideas are bureaucratic pipe dreams, this could be the year that the city takes the IBO up on some of its offerings with the city in a budget crunch resembling nothing from recent years.
Here are some of the debut suggestions along with the annual savings it would bring the city from this year's report:
- Reducing the Medicare Part B reimbursements for city retirees to 50 percent from 100 percent ($93.5 million)
- Deferring health insurance coverage for new employees ($45 million)
- Instituting a four-day, 36-hour workweek for some 40,000 New York City non-essential employees ($32.6 million)
- Eliminating the film production tax credit ($30 million)
- Abolishing city pension contributions for employees of 28 private but city-subsidized cultural institutions
Other perennial favorites reappear on the list such as making commuters pay for using the East River bridges and Staten Island Ferry, reintroducing the commuter tax on suburbanites who work in the city, charging a "pay-what-you-throw" system for city residents' garbage disposal and increasing general class sizes in city schools by two students each. Each of those would raise hundreds of millions anually, but have gone nowhere in years past.
The mayor did not seem to take a keen interest in any of the suggestions saying, "Unless you can find the other side willing to do it...it's just wasting your breath." Who knows—maybe the recent drug bust at FIT is enough bad press to make the Department of Education take the IBO's advice and end its role as school's financial sponsor, playing Kelloggs to the college's Michael Phelps.