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This Week in New York City Government

Mayor:

Mayor de Blasio Announces Tentative Contract Agreement with Uniformed Firefighters Association, Agreement on Disability Pension Legislation

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative contract agreement with the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), which covers over 8,000 firefighters and other FDNY personnel across the city. This agreement, which conforms to the uniformed pattern established last year, marks the eleventh uniformed union to reach a contract agreement with the City, and brings 83 percent of the workforce under contract agreement.

The City and the UFA are also jointly supporting new disability pension legislation that will ensure uniformed workers receive the fair coverage they need and deserve in the event of disability, while protecting city taxpayers. The total cost to the City of this new legislation will be approximately $125 million through FY2019, as the legislation will require an additional three percent employee contribution.

The City and the UFA have also agreed to settle longstanding litigation that dates back to the prior administration, related to the 2011 expiration of the Roster Staffing Agreement.

Labor Agreement
This agreement conforms to the uniformed pattern established in December 2014 with the City’s agreement with the Uniformed Superior Officers Coalition, which represents eight uniformed unions spanning all four of the uniformed agencies – Police, Fire, Sanitation, and Correction. Since then, the City has also reached agreements with the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association. The agreement also incorporates the unprecedented health care savings agreed upon with the Municipal Labor Committee, ensuring that these raises are affordable and responsible for the City and its taxpayers.

Fair Wages
The tentative contract agreement is consistent with the established uniformed pattern. Wage increases will constitute 11 percent over seven years.

Affordable Costs
The cost of the tentative agreement across the Financial Plan (through FY 2019) is consistent with the cost of the other uniformed settlements reached so far:

Gross Cost: $691.1 million
Health Savings and Stabilization Fund: ($131.1 million)
Net Cost: $559.9 million

Disability Pension Agreement
The City and the UFA have agreed to jointly support new State legislation that would provide income replacement for members who become disabled, while also protecting City taxpayers.

The cost to the City of this new legislation, when applied to all uniformed forces, will be approximately $125 million through FY2019.

The agreement stipulates that all Tier 3/6 members will contribute an additional three percent of their salary to offset the City’s cost, bringing the gross cost of approximately $250 million down to approximately $125 million.

Roster Staffing Settlement
The City and the UFA have also settled longstanding litigation that dates back to the prior administration, related to the 2011 expiration of the Roster Staffing Agreement.

Among other terms, the prior agreement required the FDNY to staff 60 Engine Companies with five firefighters each.

The FDNY will staff 20 Engine Companies with five firefighters each by February 2019, adding the fifth firefighter to five companies each year beginning in 2016. Twelve of the 20 companies will be funded by the City; eight will be funded by the union.

This settlement avoids a potentially greater liability to the City, while achieving a key FDNY objective. The total cost of this settlement is $21 million through FY2019.

Mayor de Blasio Announces “NYC Safe,” An Evidence-Driven Public Safety and Public Health Program That will Help Prevent Violence

Mayor de Blasio announced the launch of “NYC Safe,” an evidence-driven program to support the narrow population of New Yorkers with untreated serious mental illness who pose a concern for violent behavior. NYC Safe changes the way the City intervenes to stop and respond to violence committed by the mentally ill by establishing a centralized oversight body that coordinates public safety and public health. With NYC Safe, the City can respond more rapidly and appropriately to prevent violence and more assertively when it happens. NYC Safe is part of the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to overhaul the City’s approach to mental health and to keep every New Yorker safe. Implementation of NYC Safe starts immediately.

NYC Safe’s $22 million annual investment, an unprecedented partnership between law enforcement and health care agencies, will allow New York City to:

  • Develop a more comprehensive and real-time picture of where and how to intervene.
  • Better connect individuals to the appropriate level of ongoing treatment and support to avoid crises and violence.
  • Deploy the most appropriate treatment to individuals in need and ensure continuity of care.
  • Rapidly and effectively deploy a law enforcement response, where appropriate, and enhance communication with services.

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have mental health needs are safely treated in the community. Prior to NYC Safe, the de Blasio administration had already committed $323 million in additional funding over three years to mental health programs to ensure that every New Yorker gets the treatment they need. The announcement expands engagement levels and services for a group of New Yorkers that has long been ignored to meet mental health needs and effectively respond to different levels of risk.

The new plan includes a series of interventions that together create a continuum of services to meet the specific needs of this vulnerable population, from timely intervention to treatment and follow up to law enforcement response, when necessary. Specifically, this two-pronged plan includes:

1. Increased coordination between criminal justice, health, and homeless services agencies through:

  • A new hub, managed by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, to coordinate information sharing between law enforcement, homeless services, and those providing clinical treatment.
  • A new monitoring team at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to connect high-risk individuals with treatment and follow up.
  • Specially trained NYPD officers and DOHMH clinicians for five new “co-response” teams.
  • Increase of DHS peace officers inside highest-need shelters, and of NYPD presence where needed.
  • Resources to more effectively use Kendra’s Law and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program.

2. Increased investment in consistent, high-quality health treatment with:

  • Funding for four new Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams to provide intensive, high-quality treatment to reach people with mental illness where they are. Forensic ACT is a proven-model to treat people with serious mental illness who are involved with the criminal justice system. They are dispatched anywhere in the city and are specially trained to provide coordinated support to this specific population.
  • Three on-the-ground Intensive Mobile Treatment Teams to provide immediate and ongoing care for individuals who struggle to get treatment and also face housing instability; increase of on-site clinical staff at the City shelters that specialize in housing the mentally ill.
  • Additional clinical staff at the City’s homeless shelters.

The coordination and treatment services are designed to more effectively provide services to unsheltered individuals and the sheltered homeless. Specifically, the specialized Intensive Mobile Treatment Teams will expand the City’s capacity to care for unsheltered New Yorkers.

City of New York Hosts ADA Sapolin Awards in Honor of 25th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities hosted a reception at the Bronx Zoo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act and to recognize the work of disability rights proponents in New York City. This year, the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Victor Calise presented awards to David Salcfas of Marriot International, David Leventhal of Dance for Parkinson’s, Jason Sandoval of Kings Theatre, Colin O’Donnell of LinkNYC and CityBridge, and Joan Peters, JD, MPH, of the Brooklyn Center for Independence.

Signed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has fostered independence, empowerment and inclusion for millions of Americans living with disabilities. To honor and celebrate the passage of the ADA, each year the City of New York presents four awards in recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities under the Titles of the American with Disabilities Act, known as the ADA Awards, and one Advocacy Award to an individual or entity that has demonstrated a commitment to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.

The ADA Sapolin Awards are named after the late MOPD Commissioner Matthew Sapolin and the Advocacy Award is named in honor of the late Frieda Zames, a disability rights advocate, historian and author.

The recipients of the 2015 ADA Sapolin Awards and the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award are as follows:

  • Marriott International: TITLE I ADA Sapolin Employment Award
  • Dance for Parkinson’s: TITLE II ADA Sapolin Public Service Award
  • Kings Theatre: TITLE III ADA Sapolin Public Accommodation Award
  • LinkNYC/CityBridge: TITLE IV ADA Sapolin Telecommunications Award
  • Brooklyn Independence Center: Frieda Zames Advocacy Award

The reception was sponsored by IBM, The Bussani Mobility Team, Independent Care System and Capolino Associates. As guests departed from the event, they received a new calendar created in collaboration with VSA Arts, an international nonprofit organization founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.

De Blasio Administration Reduces Fines Assessed by Consumer Affairs on Businesses in Half, Cuts Violations Issued by One Third Over Past Year

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin announced onerous fines assessed on small businesses have been cut in half, fulfilling the Mayoral pledge to reduce fines as well as violations and reduce revenue from these fines by $5 million. Fines assessed have declined from $32.5 million to just over $15.7 million, and violations reduced from 19,409 to 11,923.

These reductions of violations and costs of fines on businesses, coupled with the City’s Small Business First initiative, are making City government more responsive and accessible to business owners’ needs.

Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, the City is expanding education of small businesses, including services in multiple languages and resources for both online and in one-stop shops as well as simplifying City rules and compliance processes to help further reduce the regulatory burden and fines and violations on small businesses.

Since implementing the Small Business Relief Package last July, Consumer Affairs:

  • Cut the number of violations issued to businesses by more than one-third, from 19,409 in Fiscal Year 2014 to 11,923 in the last fiscal year.
  • Reduced fines assessed by more than half from over $32.5 million in Fiscal Year 2014 to just over $15.7 million in Fiscal Year 2015.

This was done by issuing warnings for violations that don’t cause immediate consumer harm, decreasing the number of counts per violation and offering lower settlement amounts. Consumer Affairs additionally issued 3,632 ‘curable violations’ in 2014 – allowing businesses to correct first-time violations for many signage violations. These reductions were made while at the same time securing 70 percent more in restitution for consumers.

Previously, some neighborhoods were overburdened by inspectors, while others were under-inspected. Consumer Affairs implemented the use of an internal mapping technology to ensure equitable distribution of inspections across the city. During the months prior to mapping implementation, approximately 40 percent of patrol inspections significantly targeted stores that had recently been inspected. Since implementing the mapping tool, only 3 percent of patrol inspections target recently inspected stores.

As part of Small Business First, the City also announced the launch of a new online tool to help businesses comply with New York City codes and regulations and avoid fines and violations by providing information on how to avoid the most common fines, tickets and citations issued to businesses in specific sectors. Business owners can access the online tool at on.nyc.gov/commonviolations.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council and Mozilla Foundation Announce Digital Literacy Series

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council announced that the New York City Council will collaborate with Mozilla  to bring a digital literacy series to the five boroughs that will help New Yorkers envision themselves as creators of technology. The series will consist of five “Digital Maker” events that will include several learning stations guided by experienced facilitators. Participants will have a chance to modify source code on Web pages, design their own animation, or compose music, among other exercises that will allow them to see the results of their own work.

The Speaker made the announcement at the “Digital Inclusion: 2015 Community Summit”, the start of an effort to convene a range of constituencies— including immigrants, youth of color and senior citizens— to discuss how the Council can develop digital strategies that are responsive to the diverse communities it serves.

The Council will also participate in BetaNYC’s Hack Night as part of the BigApps civic challenge.  The Council is encouraging teams to propose digital solutions for Participatory Budgeting (PB). Under PB, constituents of participating Council districts attend neighborhood assemblies and vote on which public projects will receive discretionary funding. The last cycle of PB generated high participation from teenagers, women and low-income New Yorkers, among others.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-copeland, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Community Groups Announce Half a Million Dollars for Day Laborer Centers in New York City

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance, and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair on the Committee on Immigration and day laborers, celebrated funding victory of $500,000 dollars for day laborer centers in New York City. Speaking at the Bay Community Center, on one of the city’s first and oldest day laborer centers, the Speaker and the Council Member were joined by the Workers Justice Project, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agency, the New Immigrant Community Empowerment, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Staten Island Jobs Center, along with dozens of day laborers.

In FY 16, $500,000 was allocated through the Day Laborer Initiative, which will be used for the expansion and development of day laborer centers. Services will include dignified physical space for day laborers to meet, referrals to job or support services, legal services to address issues such as wage theft, as well as workforce training and development.

The Day Laborer Initiative recognizes the important work that day laborer centers do as the epicenters of workforce development for this community of workers. Participating partners in this initiative are the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), Staten Island Community Job Center (SICJC), Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) and Third Sector of New England.

Comptroller Stringer: City has Made Progress, but Needs at Least $1.2 Billion More Toward Budgetary Cushion to Protect Fiscal Health

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a new report illustrating the need to capitalize on the City’s progress in building a budgetary cushion to have in case of an economic downturn.  Stringer, who will present this new report as part of his testimony at the annual Financial Control Board meeting to be held in Midtown Manhattan, used historical data from the past two recessions to show why the City should continue the progress made by the de Blasio administration in putting put additional funds into reserve.

The Comptroller’s report examines the historical strength of the City’s financial position by measuring the size of the budgetary cushion. The cushion allows the City to cover unexpected revenue shortfalls, or expenditure needs, with a minimum of disruption to services. Because the City is required to balance its operating budget according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), it is prohibited from using prior-year surpluses in any future years.

As a result, the City has developed several techniques to use resources to provide current and future budgetary relief, including rolling over prior-year resources through debt service pre-payments, utilizing the Retiree Health Benefits Trust (RHBT) and increasing the size of the General Reserve.

The Comptroller’s Office has developed a new measure of the cushion, Prior-year Accumulated Resources and Reserves (PARR). PARR is comprised of funds available for current and future budget relief.  The advantage of PARR as a measure is that it gives a more comprehensive picture of the various sources of the prior-year funds utilized for balancing the current and out-year budgets.

PARR includes:

  • Resources used to prepay debt service and subsidies –  known as “the roll”;
  • The General Reserve at the beginning of the year – a contingency reserve that serves to increase the roll at the end of the fiscal year;
  • The Retiree Health Benefits Trust – the Trust dedicated to already-earned future health insurance costs of City retirees;
  • Bond defeasance – paying off the City’s debt, which reduces the cost of out-year debt service; and
  • The Capital Stabilization Reserve – funds that can be used for non-capital eligible project costs or to prepay debt service or defease bonds.

PARR has ranged from a low of 2 percent ­of the adjusted operating budget in FY 2003 to a high of 17.4 percent in 2009. Based on the guidelines of rating agencies and historical experience over the past two recessions, the Comptroller’s Office has determined that the appropriate PARR is 12 to 18 percent of the City’s adjusted operating budget.

As of the start of FY 2016, the City’s PARR was $8.5 billion, 10.5 percent of the adjusted operating budget, which puts the City $1.2 billion short of the bottom of the desired range. The FY 2016 PARR is comprised of:

  • A $3.55 billion roll committed for FY16 expenditures;
  • $3.3 billion in the RHBT;
  • $1 billion in the General Reserve;
  • A new $500 million Capital Stabilization Reserve; and
  • $103 million from bond defeasance.

To read the full report, click here.

To read Comptroller Stringer’s testimony, click here.

Comptroller Stringer and the New York Pension Funds Announce $500 Million Expansion of Private Equity Emerging Manager Program

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and New York City Pension Fund Trustees announced a $500 million expansion of the City Pension Funds’ Private Equity Emerging Manager program, which brings the total amount invested or committed with Emerging Managers to more than $14 billion — including over $11 billion invested or committed to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Enterprises (M/WBEs). The expansion of the program also includes a formal graduation policy for private equity Emerging Managers to facilitate the City Pension Funds’ ability to continue to invest with the best-in-class private equity emerging managers after they have out-grown the Emerging Manager program.

“This key expansion of our Private Equity Emerging Manager initiative will help us to build on the program’s early successes, and further expand opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned investment firms,” Comptroller Stringer said. “We are always on the lookout for ways to expand the pool of investment managers who have the talent to grow our pension funds. Diversity is part of our fiduciary duty and I am confident that the New York City Pension Funds will benefit from the new thinking and new perspectives provided by these Emerging Managers and M/WBEs.”

Since taking office, Comptroller Stringer and his fellow trustees have taken action to encourage greater diversity among investment managers. Last year, the Comptroller announced that the Funds had approved a $1 billion commitment to Emerging Managers across several asset classes. In May, the Comptroller and the Funds launched a new initiative to incorporate diversity as a formal criteria in the selection of investment firms for New York City’s $160 billion funds and proposed a formal graduation policy for Emerging Managers in public markets so that funds which no longer fit the exact definition of the asset class remain eligible for additional, targeted investment.

Queens Borough President Katz: Queens Center to Distribute Backpacks to School Kids at National Night Out Events in Queens

Borough President Melinda Katz and the Queens Center distributed free backpacks and school supplies to schoolchildren at several National Night Out events August 4th starting at the 112th Precinct’s event in MacDonald Park (Queens Boulevard Service Road and Yellowstone Boulevard).

The backpacks and school supplies were donated by the Queens Center shopping mall. National Night Out is an annual summer event by the NYPD and various agencies, local business and civic organizations to foster relationships between the community and police and to promote a united stand in the fight against crime.

Queens Borough President Katz Allocates $14 Million for Queens Library Capital Improvements

Borough President Melinda Katz announced an allocation of $14 million of her Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary capital funds for important expansions, renovations and technology across 12 library branches throughout the borough.

The $14 million allocation breaks down as follows:

  • $3.8 million for the expansion of the Queens Library at Arverne
  • $3.5 million for interior renovations at the Queens Library at Baisley Park
  • $96,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at Bay Terrace
  • $500,000 for the upgrading of the HVAC system at the Queens Library at Douglaston/Little Neck
  • $65,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at Douglaston/Little Neck
  • $81,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at East Flushing
  • $2.75 million for a second elevator at the Queens Library at Flushing
  • $800,000 for a roof replacement at the Queens Library at Ozone Park
  • $78,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at Rosedale
  • $2.2 million for exterior façade and multi-purpose room renovations at the Queens Library at St. Albans
  • $81,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at South Ozone Park
  • $95,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at Steinway
  • $122,000 for security cameras at the Queens Library at Woodhaven.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Unveils Plans to Allocate Approximately $12 Million to Overhaul Brooklyn War Memorial and Parks Across Brooklyn

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams unveiled the parks funding component of his capital budget plan during a press conference at the Brooklyn War Memorial, located inside Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn. Standing beside the leadership of the Department of Parks and Recreation, elected officials, park advocates, and local veterans from across the borough, including former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, he outlined the details of his $11.9 million in allocations during Fiscal Year 2016, which represents more than a twofold increase from last year in his budgetary commitment to enhancing Brooklyn’s open space.

“From Greenpoint to Gowanus, from Cypress Hills to Canarsie, I am investing in open space that benefits Brooklynites of all backgrounds,” said Borough President Adams. “Parks are our great equalizer, the backyard for all New Yorkers who don’t have one, turning people from someone living next door to you to your neighbor; I believe in equitably funding and supporting them across our borough. This year’s capital budget enforces that investment in Brooklyn’s parks is not just good for our environment, but for the health of our children, our families, and our neighborhoods.”

“NYC Parks is fortunate to have a generous and conscientious partner in Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams,” said Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey. “Our borough’s parks are treasured by the neighborhoods they serve, and capital investments are crucial to renovating and improving them. We thank Borough President Adams and look forward to working with him in the coming year.”

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Invites Brooklynites to Enjoy Remaining Free Shows of 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams invited New Yorkers of all ages to enjoy the remaining free shows of the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, the 33rd season of weekly performances held at Wingate Park in East Flatbush. On Monday, August 10th, VP Records Presents Reggae Night will include Freddie McGregor, Christopher Martin, New Kingston, and Ikaya. Old School Night will close out the series on Monday, August 17th with Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, and Special Ed. Both shows are free to the public and begin at 7:30 PM.

“Wingate Park is the hot spot for cool entertainment and free fun in Central Brooklyn!” said Borough President Adams. “I am honored to host the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series for the second straight year. These shows are emblematic of the commitment to bringing our communities together in a celebration of the spirit that makes us One Brooklyn.”

The 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series began on Monday, July 27th with Morris Day and the Time. The Annual Gospel Night was on Monday, August 3rd, with performances by Ricky Dillard & New G, Mike Willis & The Called, as well as the Christian Cultural Center Choir.

Staten Island Borough President Oddo Announces Planned added tribute for September 11th Memorial Ceremony

Borough President James S. Oddo announced plans to add a special tribute at his annual September 11th Memorial Ceremony at a press conference on July 22. The video tribute will honor the lives of those we lost by highlighting their families since that day. BP Oddo has asked those who lost loved ones in the attack to send his office photos and descriptions of recent family events for inclusion in the video.

He praised his predecessor James Molinaro’s graceful handling of the 9/11 memorial each year, and hopes to continue to honor the victims of that tragic day, as well as their families. Drawing on his own experience of losing his father just months before his wedding last fall, the Borough President explained his wish to show that those lost on September 11 live on in the achievements and milestones of their family members. “I could hear my Dad that day,” he said. “He was with me.”

With this in mind, Borough Hall will collect information and photos regarding families’ joyful milestones such as weddings, births, and college acceptances, all of which will be compiled into a video to be shown during the memorial. Please send via email to abasile@statenislandusa.com by August 7.

City Agencies:

Chancellor Fariña Announces Tough Reforms to Hold Schools Accountable and Ensure Compliance with Academic Rules

Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced an aggressive new approach to holding schools accountable for adhering to academic policies. Over the years there have been sporadic allegations regarding academic integrity, and this new approach will include the first-ever permanent task force to provide oversight, as well as new training and resources to ensure all schools comply with rigorous policies and standards. An independent third party without ties to the DOE will also sit on the task force, and evidence of inappropriate conduct will be brought to the Special Commissioner of Investigation. Separately, Ernst and Young, LLP will perform tests of the academic data and report its findings to the task force.

Chancellor Fariña has enforced a zero-tolerance approach to violations of academic integrity. Last month, she removed the principal of Dewey High School for impropriety in the school’s credit recovery program, and she has assigned dedicated staff to review school-level data at the new Borough Field Support Centers. The full-time staff will provide consistent ongoing monitoring of policy implementation and consistent support for schools, a significant change from the past.

“Schools violating our academic policies are not giving students the education they deserve, and I have zero tolerance for schools flaunting our policies. By creating a Regulatory Task Force on Academic Policy and forming dedicated teams to monitor any concerning trends, we are once again sending a clear message that violating academic policies will not be tolerated,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Our policies are non-negotiable, and any inappropriate action will be reported to SCI.”

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