NYC’s public libraries spared from more cuts, Mayor Adams says — but budget ax set to fall elsewhere Tuesday

Mayor Eric Adams will spare the city’s three public library systems from another round of broad budget cuts across city agencies that he is set to announce Tuesday, Hizzoner revealed on Jan. 14.

The mayor, in a video posted on social media Sunday evening, said the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries would not suffer another round of 5% trims in his Fiscal Year 2025 preliminary budget rollout on Jan. 16. He said the proposal from the library systems to find the necessary savings would have resulted in cutting Saturday service and some weekday hours.

“Our administration will not do that, we are holding our city’s three library systems harmless in this round to prevent further service reductions and protect those vital institutions,” Adams said. “Libraries are a lifeline to countless communities and the great equalizers.”

The move — first reported by the news site Gothamist — follows Adams holding a series of press conferences last week to announce that he is reversing some of the most unpopular cuts he made in his November Financial Plan, after the reductions received fierce backlash. Those restorations included funding for an NYPD academy class, thousands of litter baskets and schools that provide students with wrap-around services.

Adams insisted the cuts were necessary at the time to close the city’s projected $7.1 billion budget gap over the next fiscal year, but that improved tax revenue forecasts and a lower-anticipated cost for the migrant crisis have given him room to backtrack on some service reductions.

“Thanks to careful planning and responsible and effective management, we are going to pass a balanced budget that still meets the needs of working class New Yorkers,” the mayor said.

But while the public libraries are spared from another cut this month — as are the NYPD, FDNY and Sanitation Department, the funding trimmed from their budgets in November will not be added back, according to City Hall. The November round of roughly $24 million in library cuts caused the systems to end Sunday service at most branches.

Additionally, the systems could still face further cuts when the mayor releases his executive budget plan in April.

Library funding was a focal point of the extended budget battle between the mayor and City Council last spring, with the mayor removing dollars from the systems only to evenutally put them back. 

Nonetheless, library leaders celebrated Adams’ decision in a joint statement posted on social media Sunday night.

“The Brooklyn, New York, and Queens public libraries are grateful that Mayor Adams, a longtime champion of our mission, spared libraries from a January cut to our current operating budgets,” they said. “We deeply appreciate the administration’s recognition of the value of libraries and how much New Yorkers rely on them.”

But City Council leaders charge that Adams’ recent budget backtracks, while welcome, demonstrate that the cuts were unnecessary in the first place, as they predicted higher tax revenues than his office had over a month ago.

Furthermore, they argue Adams’ successive cuts and restorations are indicative of larger issues with his fiscal management.

“This is not sound governance or budget management, and it should leave New Yorkers with more questions than answers,” said Council Finance Chair Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) last week. “People deserve a better and more honest accounting of the financial challenges we face. Let’s stop playing budget games and actually prioritize the needs of New Yorkers.”

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