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City Council reaches deal with Mayor to restore $36M in proposed funding cuts for public libraries: sources

Jun. 28, 2023 By Ethan Stark-Miller

The City Council has reached a deal with Mayor Eric Adams to restore $36.2 million proposed funding cuts to the city’s three public library systems in the forthcoming Fiscal Year 2024 city budget, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to amNewYork Metro Wednesday afternoon.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams also confirmed the deal in a written statement late on June 28.

“Over the course of the entire budget process, the Council prioritized fighting for and protecting our city’s libraries by restoring essential funding from proposed cuts,” the speaker said. “We were proud to work alongside the countless New Yorkers who raised their voices in support of these critical resource hubs and neighborhood centers for all ages. This successful outcome for the coming year‘s budget is an achievement shared by all New Yorkers.”

The restoration of the cuts — which are among the highest profile and most unpopular of the mayor’s wide-ranging trims to agency budgets — was first reported by the news site Gothamist on Wednesday afternoon. One source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter freely, said council members threatened to walk away from the negotiating table if the administration didn’t restore the full amount of the cuts.

The deal comes as council leaders and the mayor are in the thick of budget negotiations, which must wrap-up by Friday at midnight in order to deliver an on-time spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

Adams did spare libraries from an additional 4% cut in April that he imposed on most city agencies, but leaders of the three systems — the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries — said the remaining funding hole would have still forced them to reduce staff, leading to cutting weekend hours and eliminating Sunday service at some branches entirely.

In addition to offering free books, libraries provide a free public space and programming to communities across the city.

“Without the restoration of funding, we will be forced to make permanent reductions in staffing that lead to reduced hours and days of service, less programming and decreased spending on collection,” Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson said at a City Council hearing last month. “ A cut of this size means all our focus will be on keeping our doors open. And we will not be able to deliver the support their communities.”

The libraries were just one agency affected by cost-saving measures in the mayor’s executive budget, released in April, which also included reductions to social services, reentry programs administered by the city Department of Corrections and the City University of New York. Adams has said the belt-tightening is necessary as the city faces fiscal headwinds caused by the ever-growing cost of providing for tens of thousands of migrants and a possible recession in the coming years.

The mayor’s office was not immediately available for comment.

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