Balance those books: The Adams administration is right to demand budget cuts

Ex-cop Eric Adams won the mayor’s office last year on the promise to make New York safe. It’s a hard job, and harder than it should be given scant cooperation from Albany. Now, as the fiscal skies darken, with tax receipts dropping and government expenses rising, Adams also needs to keep New York solvent, another incredibly difficult task.

We’re with you, Mr. Mayor, and your Budget Director Jacques Jiha as you demand city agencies tighten their belts to help close a $2.9 billion shortfall next fiscal year that’s anticipated to grow as large as $6 billion by 2026. Jiha wants half of all unfilled positions to remain empty permanently.

Expected savings from removing from the rolls those 5,000 jobs (a relative drop in the budget amid more than 330,000 city workers total): $350 million annually, a fraction of $2.9 billion. But every bit counts.

Even as it finds efficiencies, it’s simultaneously essential for the city to retain high-quality staffers by following the private sector’s lead and accommodating more hybrid work schedules. Cops, firefighters, sanitmen and teachers can’t work from home, but office employees can.

Hope is not a strategy; proactive management is. The good news is as of today, there are no layoffs planned. We hope they won’t be needed. The city can and must find savings without services deteriorating.

Speaking of which, an appellate court Tuesday did the right thing when, even as it ruled that City Hall flouted procedures written into state law, it let the city’s education budget stand, overturning a lower court that would’ve forced a revote by the City Council — and thrown planning into a total tizzy. New York City schools spend plenty. The challenge is using that money wisely.

The municipal unions have access to the same ledgers that Adams and Jiha are looking at. Of course they’ll want raises for their members and no reduction in any of their generous benefits in upcoming contract negotiations. So why not suggest some ways to underwrite the extra pay?