Prioritizing the Environment in the NYC FY23 Budget

For the last four months, NYC Council and Administration has been grappling with the task of agreeing on a budget for Fiscal Year 2023. In February, Mayor Adams released his Preliminary Budget, which contained an outline of his priorities and goals for the City. In March, the City Council formally responded to the Mayor’s preliminary budget with a summary of concerns and recommendations to ensure the budget meets the needs of our community. Then, Mayor Adams released the Executive Budget, an updated proposed budget.  Currently, the Council is holding another round of hearings on the budget and will continue to negotiate until passage at the end of June.

Throughout this process, NYLCV has been advocating for funding in several key areas, including the NYC Streets Plan, Local Law 97 Funding, the composting pilot, and 1.0% for the Parks Department. Investing in these initiatives is critical if we are to make progress on our environmental goals and improve the quality of life throughout our community.

Below is a detailed description of how the Mayor and Council should be prioritizing the environment in the FY23 budget.


1% For Parks 

This year, we have stood with New Yorkers for Parks, DC37, and the entire Play Fair Coalition to demand a budget that gives the Parks Department the 1% of funding they deserve. In the Preliminary Budget, the Administration revealed that they are planning on allocating only $557 million to the Parks department, which would cut $60 million in funding and remove 3,500 essential park positions. As a response, City Council advocated for the restoration of $52 million to be directed toward maintenance and workforce. Finally, in the Executive Budget, the City agreed to allocate $600 million to the Parks department, a sizeable investment.

We are excited to see legislators taking parks seriously, however this $600 million in funding would still only accumulate to 0.6% of the total budget. It is crucial that our Parks Department finally receive 1% of the budget. Increased funding would restore hundreds of staff positions, including City Park Workers, Gardeners, Urban Park Rangers, and Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers, each working tirelessly to keep our green spaces clean and in usable condition. NYC’s parks and green areas serve as valuable environmental assets, give the city its unique character, and help bring the community together. Yet following 2020’s budget cuts, the parks saw their worst conditions on record. It’s time we start restoring staff employment and investing in the necessary maintenance and operations to preserve our parks and ensure they will last for generations to come. 

Investing in our parks will also help to strengthen our urban forest, which provides nearly $260 million annually in essential benefits and services. The Forest For All NYC Coalition notes that by allocating funding toward maintaining trees, caring for forested natural areas, improving trail access, enforcing tree preservation, and developing urban canopy tracking, the City can enhance its biodiversity and resiliency throughout its neighborhoods. 

Much progress has been made on these initiatives since the Preliminary Budget was released at the beginning of the year. NYLCV will continue to work with legislators over the next two months as they negotiate adjustments to the Executive Budget to finalize an Adopted Budget. We hope to see even more funding committed to the conservation of our environment and the prosperity of our City. It is imperative that we pass a budget that is not only bold on climate, but paves the path towards a greener future. 


Streets Plan

Not only does transportation pose major threats to public health and air quality, but its effects are much more likely to impact low-income communities or communities of color. In NYC in particular, most major highways run through underserved communities, communities that often do not benefit from infrastructure or policy designed to protect residents from cars. To combat these issues, NYLCV recommends implementing the NYC Streets Plan and the 25×25 Plan, as well as traffic enforcement initiatives to enforce the city’s commitment to reimagining street space. Legislation, such as Intro 2465 from the previous session needs to be passed to enable bike lanes to be built throughout the city. Finally, the NYLCV prioritizes the need for communities in transportation deserts to have safe and reliable alternatives to cars to avoid high rates of pollution and congestion. Funding is necessary to implement some of these recommendations, and congestion pricing is an excellent way to do so. 

NYLCV recommended allotting $170 million to the FY23 budget to account for the expected cost of $1.7 billion to implement the plan over the next 10 years. The Fair Fares Program intended to make public transportation more accessible in the city has also currently been allocated $75 million, though more money is needed in the next budget to expand the program even further to Citi-Bike and Metro-North. The City Council requested a $3.1 billion budget for Clean Streets to kickstart more initiatives in the first year of implementing the plan. In the Executive Budget, the Mayor pledged to fully fund the Streets Plan’s implementation.


Local Law 97 Funding 

Local Law 97 overseen by the Department of Buildings intends to lower emissions in New York City with the first benchmark for emission reductions in 2024. The overall goal is to reduce the city’s largest building emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Buildings meeting certain criteria will be required to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas limits by 2024, but even stricter limits will be in place for 2030. Buildings include those over  25,000 gross square feet, two or more buildings on the same tax lot that together exceed 50,000 square feet, and two or more buildings owned by a condo association that are governed by the same board of managers and that together exceed 50,000 square feet. Buildings that exceed a certain amount of carbon emissions per square foot will be fined according to emissions generated per square foot.

This law will likely impact around 50,000 of the city’s largest buildings, of which about 20% are expected to face major fines in 2024. Many of those responsible for passing the law including former Mayor Bill de Blasio and city council members are also out of office, creating doubt about how effective this law will actually be. Many landlords are already preparing for millions of dollars of fines they will likely face as they are unprepared to cut emissions sufficiently by 2024. To refine the law and inform its implementation, a 16-member Climate Advisory Board was appointed in December 2019. 

One of NYLCV’s priorities is increasing staffing specifically at the Department of Buildings to ensure compliance with the law, and we are glad that the new Administration recently committed to ensuring compliance by 2024.



Another one of NYLCV’s top priorities is full funding of the curbside organics collection pilot and its expansion back to pre-pandemic levels. In the Preliminary Budget, Mayor Adams announced his plan to suspend the expansion of the City’s composting program and cut funding for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) by $48 million. As a response, City Council called on the Administration to restore the composting pilot with $18.2 million in funding. In the new Executive Budget, the City has agreed to restore the $48 million in budget cuts. 

The Mayor has also recently announced a new $13 million investment in a containerization pilot. Funding equipment and personnel to collect litter and clean streets year-round will reduce rodents, improve aesthetics, and increase ease of mobility across the boroughs.

While we are excited to see the Administration allocating more into the Sanitation budget and investing in waste management tactics, this still does not get the City any closer to reaching our Zero Waste to landfills goal by 2030. 81% of our waste still ends up sitting in landfills emitting methane, 33% of which is organic material. If we want to curb our emissions and reduce its harmful effects on the environment, we need to create a more robust compost recycling system that all New Yorkers can use.

05.15.22 // AUTHOR: Carlos Castell Croke //