By Joan Gralla
(Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday unveiled a $68.7 billion preliminary budget, closing a $2 billion gap without raising taxes or laying off teachers or uniformed workers.
"We will spend less in virtually every area except schools" in fiscal 2013, Bloomberg said in a televised address that stressed the urgency of slicing soaring pension costs while continuing to make the long-term investments that keep the city safe and growing.
The mayor, a political independent now in his third and final term, has regularly demanded that city agencies "do more with less," and the new budget plan is partly balanced with $1 billion of cuts he ordered in November.
Bloomberg, who took office in 2002, says his 11 rounds of spending cuts over the last few years have not impaired the quality of city services. "It would be pretty hard to find many agencies that are not doing a heck of a lot of a better job than they did in 2002," he said.
Some non-uniformed workers likely will be laid off under the proposed budget, he said, adding the vast majority of the 20,500 positions reduced since 2002 were achieved through attrition.
The city's tax revenue is slowly recovering from recession lows, but the mayor is wary of overly optimistic forecasts.
"The uncertainty of our economy demands our vigilance," he said.
New York City likely will only get an extra $111 million in the current fiscal year, he said, while revenue should rise $278 million the following year.
"We expect the recovery of all the jobs lost in 2008 by the end of 2012," Bloomberg said.
The city-funded $50.7 billion part of the budget plan is down 1.9 percent on a year-over year basis. The remainder of the budget, funded by the state and federal governments, will rise by $2 billion.
(Reporting By Joan Gralla)