City Hall suddenly found money in the Sanitation Department’s budget to restore some litter basket pickup service Tuesday as outrage over trash piling up on Gotham’s sidewalks continued to mount.
The announcement came just days after a major business association, the Partnership for New York City, sent de Blasio a letter blasting him for failing to tackle quality of life issues — and Hizzoner’s Sanitation Commissioner quit over budget cuts, saying they posed a risk to public health.
“New Yorkers deserve clean, safe communities and with this announcement today we are continuing to deliver on that promise,” de Blasio said in a press release. “Our sanitation professionals have been heroes throughout this crisis. They deserve all the support they can get in their fight to keep New York City clean.”
The press release was light on details.
It claimed that money was reallocated in the Sanitation Department’s budget to restore a quarter of the street basket cuts made in de Blasio’s latest budget — but did not identify how much money was found or what programs were cut to free up funds.
City Hall was not able to provide those details.
More than 160 top Big Apple business executives signed onto the letter that the Partnership for New York City sent to de Blasio last week, which highlighted worsening quality of life concerns as a growing obstacle to the city’s reboot after the coronavirus shutdown.
“There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” said the letter, sent Thursday.
De Blasio’s 2021 budget hit the Sanitation Department hard as City Hall’s budget writers sought to close an estimated $9 billion deficit, including its litter basket pickup programs.
There were 736 runs on litter basket routes across the city every week, on average, in the recently completed 2020 budget.
In this budget, that was slashed to 272 before Tuesday’s partial restoration.
Two days before the Partnership’s communique, longtime Sanitation Commissioner Kathyrn Garcia hammered de Blasio for gashing the department’s budget in her resignation letter — as she eyes a 2021 mayoral bid.
“At a time when protecting public health is of the essence, cutting basic Sanitation services is unconscionable,” Garcia wrote.
“This budget crisis is incredibly severe, but I am disappointed to see so much of the work we have done over the last six years being walked back,” she added later. “If, as is often said, budgets are a statement of values, my values require me to resign in the face of these cuts, which will harm New Yorkers.”