New York City is careening closer to all-out financial bankruptcy for the first time since Mayor Abraham Beame ran the city more than 40 years ago, experts say.
As tax-fleeced businesses and individuals flee en masse, and city public spending surges into the stratosphere, financial analysts say Gotham is perilously near total fiscal disaster.
Long-term debt is now more than $81,100 per household, and Mayor de Blasio is ramping up to spend as much as $3 billion more in the new budget than the current $89.2 billion.
“The city is running a deficit and could be in a real difficult spot if we had a recession, or a further flight of individuals because of tax reform,” said Milton Ezrati, chief economist of Vested.
“New York is already in a difficult financial spot, but it would be in an impossible situation if we had any kind of setback.”
De Blasio has detailed $750 million in savings for the preliminary fiscal 2020 budget, but that won’t be enough to stave off a bloodbath if New York’s economy is hit by financial shocks — including a recession, which some see on the horizon — analysts warn. Gov. Cuomo’s preliminary budget has $600 million in city cuts in the coming year.
But city spending, up some 32 percent since de Blasio took office — triple the rate of inflation — may need to be cut deeper, these analysts add. The city’s long-term pension obligations have escalated, as well, as its workforce has soared by more than 33,000 in the last five years.
Other startling indicators:
- New York state — and city — are ranked No. 1 nationwide in state and local tax burden.
- Property taxes, almost half of the city’s revenue, is rising faster than any other revenue source — squeezing businesses and forcing homeowners, already hit by federal property tax deduction changes, to relocate to lower-tax states.
- The top 1 percent of New York City earners pay some 50 percent of Big Apple income tax revenue.
“New York City could go bankrupt, absolutely,” said Peter C. Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research.
“In that case, the city would get temporary protection from its creditors, but it would be very difficult for the city to take on new debt.”