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Bloomberg makes final adjustments to NYC's fiscal year 2014 budget

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media at New York's City Hall after a ruling invalidating the city's plan to ban large s
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media at New York's City Hall after a ruling invalidating the city's plan to ban large s

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented an updated budget proposal for the coming fiscal year on Thursday with largely cosmetic changes before the budget goes to the city's legislature for debate.

Bloomberg presented the adjusted figures for fiscal year 2013-14 as a last update to his $70 billion budget presented in January. The city's current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Bloomberg said better-than-expected tax revenue in the current fiscal year would pull some tax revenue forward from next year. The city collected an additional $800 million in the current fiscal year after taxpayers sold assets at the end of the 2012 calendar year to avoid higher federal taxes.

In total, the city expects $1.1 billion in extra revenues this year when $222 million netted in corporate tax audits is included.

"It sounds good but it really is more bookkeeping," Bloomberg told a press conference at City Hall. "We lowered tax revenues for fiscal '14 because of that."

The city now expects $462 million less revenue in fiscal 2014, $194 million of which is due to a lower tax revenue forecast.

"Despite the one-time increase in tax revenues this year, this does not substantially change the city's forecasted revenue base," the city council speaker, Christine Quinn, and Domenic Recchia, chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a joint statement.

"The city's overall fiscal outlook continues to reflect the solid and steady improvements in the city economy that we anticipated in the winter," they said.

Quinn is planning to run to succeed Bloomberg as mayor later this year. Bloomberg is now in the last year of his third term as mayor and cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

The city-funded portion of the $69.8 billion budget is $50.2 billion. Controllable agency expenses are flat at about $22.8 billion in the next fiscal year, while "uncontrollable expenses," which include mandated pensions and other benefits, will rise 7.6 percent, or $1.7 billion, to $23.4 billion.

New York has also cut by half its estimate for revenue from the sale of taxi medallions to $300 million in the coming fiscal year.

The city is awaiting a decision by the New York Court of Appeals concerning a lawsuit over whether the sale can proceed.

The city's comptroller, John Liu, criticized the Bloomberg administration for including any revenue from the sale of the medallions while the dispute is ongoing.

"The mayor's executive budget for FY 2014 contains some major unwarranted assumptions that risk opening yawning gaps," Liu said in a statement.

"It assumes that the city will reap $1.5 billion over four years from a taxi medallion sale that for the foreseeable future is tied up in court," said Liu, who is also a candidate for mayor.

Other changes from the January projection include a $327 million increase in projected agency expenses. Total expenses increased by $472 million compared to January's projection.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Alden Bentley, Leslie Adler and Phil Berlowitz)

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