NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 4/8/2009 5:30:21 PM ET 2009-04-08T21:30:21

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told department heads Wednesday to identify thousands of city employees for layoffs by next Monday because the city’s economic outlook has continued to deteriorate and tax revenues remain short of projections, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Sources at City Hall said as many as 7,000 more jobs could be eliminated. Bloomberg’s budget plan for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, already included at least 1,300 layoffs; the new round of reductions would bring the likely total to more than 8,300.

Those layoffs would cut even more from a city bureaucracy that lost 9,000 workers in January.

Most city agencies, including the Health Department, the Buildings Department and the Administration for Children’s Services, face an additional 4 percent reduction, according to the letter, written by city Finance Director Mark Page and obtained Wednesday afternoon by NBC station WNBC of New York.

However, some agencies will take less of a hit. Uniformed services like the police and the fire department face additional cuts of only one-half of 1 percent, and schools are being asked for a smaller 1.4 percent reduction.

Bloomberg gave his department heads until noon ET Monday to decide which jobs will go. Page said that he was willing to consider alternatives to layoffs but that there was not much left to cut other than jobs because the budget had been slashed so much already.

“Given the efficiencies you have already achieved, this next step would most likely rely heavily on additional headcount reductions, whether through attrition, or, as is more likely, through layoffs,” Page warned.

Familiar story for big cities
New York is being crippled by the same economic problems that have led to deep cuts in many of the nation’s major cities:

  • In Washington, D.C., where the city’s chief financial officer has projected a $1 billion deficit within three years, Mayor Adrian Fenty proposed 1,632 municipal layoffs in his 2010 budget last month.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa warned that the city faces nearly 3,000 layoffs if it could not cut costs to reduce its projected fiscal 2010-11 deficit of nearly $1 billion.
  • Boston: Mayor Tom Menino’s 2010 budget envisions $2.4 billion in cuts that would require 565 layoffs.

Bloomberg is wrestling with a projected midyear budget deficit of $4 billion. Officials said his letter Wednesday was intended to persuade state lawmakers and municipal unions to cooperate on several initiatives he has proposed.

Among them, the mayor has asked the Legislature to allow the city to raise the sales tax above its current 8.375 percent. He has also urged lawmakers and the unions to create a new, less-generous pension tier for new employees, and he has said city employees should pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums.

By Melissa Russo of NBC station WNBC of New York and Alex Johnson of msnbc.com.

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