Tag Archives: new york city fire department expenditures

Uniformed Services: Census Bureau State and Local Government Finance Data for FY 2004 and FY 2014

The big revelation when former Mayor Bloomberg put all the costs for most big New York City agencies, including pensions and fringe benefits, on one page, and deducted federal and state aid to show city-funded expenditures, was how expensive the so-called uniformed services – police, fire, correction and sanitation –are for city taxpayers. While health and welfare and education cost as much and more overall, there is substantial federal and state funding for those services. In FY 2014, according to New York City’s February 2014 Financial Plan Budget Summary, the uniformed services cost $17.4 billion, 23.5% of the $73.8 billion in total spending by the City of New York. As for city funds, however, these services cost $16.5 billion, 31.5% of the $52.25 billion in total city costs.

Many other city services, moreover, are provided by private, often non-profit organizations, or other agencies such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. What is spent on these services in a given year is what they cost that year. The uniformed services and the public schools, on the other hand, have retirement benefits that are much richer than those of other city workers, let along private sector workers, and these benefits that can be gamed or suddenly increased by the state legislature. Thus we are actually still paying more today, and will pay still more tomorrow, for work provided by the uniformed services in FY 2014, as a result of pension spiking and retroactive pension increases. But how much did they cost at the time, how did that compare with FY 2004, and how does this compare with the national average, the rest of New York State, and other states? That is the subject of this post.

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Uniformed Services: Census of Governments Data

Over the past 20 years there has been an ongoing debate about the high cost of welfare, social services and Medicaid (for the non-elderly) in New York, occasional complaints about the cost of special education in the city’s schools, and objections to spending on and allegedly low productivity of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Since these services are funded by a mixture of federal money, state money and user fees, however, as well as local taxes, their impact on the high tax burden imposed by the City of New York is less than press reporting would have one believe.

What is more expensive, far more expensive, for city taxpayers is the cost of the so-called uniformed services – the Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Corrections, and Department of Sanitation. According to the NYC Office of Management and Budget, these agencies cost city taxpayers $16.3 billion in FY 2012, compared with $10 billion for health and welfare spending, $14 billion for public education, and $7.6 billion for most other agencies. And yet New Yorkers are faced with demands for even more money for the uniformed services, and threats if it isn’t received. So how did New York’s spending on the uniformed services compare with other places, according to the latest comparable data available?

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