By Joan Gralla
(Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council on Monday agreed on a $68.5 billion 2013 budget, which spares 20 fire companies and increases funding for day care and after- school programs.
"We've again produced an on-time, balanced budget for our city that doesn't raise taxes on New Yorkers, and that preserves the essential services that keep our city strong," the mayor, a political independent, said at a news conference.
Restoring the fire companies will cost $59 million.
Bloomberg did not reveal what was cut so the 20 fire companies could be saved from the chopping block, along with day care and after-school programs.
"There are so many balls in the air all the time," he said. "Some things wind up on the floor. Some things wind up in the budget."
Funding for day care and after-school programs was increased by about $150 million to a total of about $417 million. More than 50,000 children from low-income families will get day care - 7,000 more than initially planned. Almost 30,000 slots for after-school programs were restored.
MUSEUMS, LIBRARIES AND TAXI MEDALLIONS
Cultural institutions - such as museums - are a $6 billion sector of the city's economy. Their funding will rise slightly to $50 million. Libraries will get an extra $90 million, enabling them to be open to the public an average of more than five days a week.
The jobs of 400 teachers' aides were saved, partly because the union agreed to cut the amount of time they work each day by half an hour, said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to seek the Democratic mayoral nomination.
Bloomberg's third and final term as mayor concludes at the end of 2013.
At Monday's news conference, the mayor said he has increased the estimate of how much will be raised by selling 2,000 taxi medallions to a total of $1.46 billion from $1 billion.
But the sales now will be spread out over three years. Revenue for fiscal 2013 should total $635 million. Another $365 million will be raised from this one-shot deal in 2014 and $460 million in 2015.
Bloomberg said there would be an "enormous" hole in the city's budget if taxi groups, which have sued the city to block the taxi medallion sales, succeed in their court battles.
The city's 2013 fiscal year starts on July 1.
The budget for the city's 2014 fiscal year has a deficit of $2.5 billion, which Bloomberg said "is going to require an awful lot of work" to close.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by M.D. Golan and Jan Paschal)