2007_01_budgetbloomberg.jpgThe Mayor unveiled his Fiscal Year 2008 Preliminary Budget and was very upbeat, if cautious. Mayor Bloomberg said of the $57.1 billion budget:

“Because of our strong economy, tax revenues are running higher than expected this year. That’s good budgetary news, including $1 billion in tax cuts for the people of New York City. If conditions permit, we’ll propose extending that tax cut in the future. But with slower job growth and other indications of economic uncertainty on the horizon, it’s wiser to take a wait-and-see approach, while also putting $500 million more into our Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund and using $1.4 billion to close the expected budget deficit in 2009.”

What's impressive is that there is a projected $3.9 billion budget surplus for this fiscal year, plus another $1.4 billion surplus next year, thanks to what the NY Times calls a "boom in property transfer taxes, including mortgage recording taxes, which can generate millions of dollars when large properties change hands." Well, at least the city is getting something out of the Stuyvesant Town deal.

What's wild is that not even the Mayor's office predicted the the $3.9 billion surplus - estimates were around $1.9 billion. The Mayor warned that the city was getting too dependent on transfer taxes: "The people of New York City have every reason to be happy. The ways to be happy long term, however, is to not go out and spend everything you have on one night of food and a few drinks.”

Some notable things about the budget:
- Money for projects, like the Javits Center ($350 million), Coney Island redevelopment ($320 million), and the Atlantic Yards ($205 million)
- The $1 billion in tax cuts, mentioned last week at the State of the City as well
- A $1.2 billion increase in school funding, with the state paying half
- $15 million for a "Lower Manhattan Security Initiative" to "safeguard bridges, tunnels and infrastructure"; it's expected the feds will kick in another $10 million

And on Wednesday, the Mayor and City Council Speaker announced that the traditional "budget dance" between Mayor and City Council was over, with the Mayor agreeing to restore funding to art organizations, libraries and parks.

Photograph of Mayor Bloomberg's reflection onto a screen during the budget presentation by Mary Altaffer/AP