Bloomberg Addresses Wall Street Crisis, ‘Quality of Life,’ Potential Tax Hikes

Addressing the collapse of Wall Street giants A.I.G. and Lehman Brothers in a press conference today, Michael Bloomberg said that the city is prepared to deal with lost revenue and repeatedly emphasized that the city will take steps to preserve its quality of life, which he said has buoyed New York in other times of financial hardship.

“New York continues to be a place where people want to live and that makes it a city where companies need to be. If we allow our quality of life to slip, we will do nothing but hurt our competitive advantage, and we’re not going to let that happen,” Bloomberg said. At City Hall, he was making his first public comments since he canceled a planned trip to California and stayed in New York over the weekend to deal with the financial crisis.

Bloomberg made references to policing the streets, investing in cultural institutions and maintaining parks, but did not specify what it would take to maintain those services at adequate levels, or what other areas of the city’s budget may need to be trimmed to adjust for lost tax revenue.

With City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Comptroller Bill Thompson behind him, Bloomberg said the city’s current budget will remain intact, because it was crafted with the anticipation of major losses from Wall Street firms this year.

“As of August, you should know city tax revenues are coming in at more or less the levels we projected, meaning the budget remains in balance for fiscal year  ‘09, and that our deficit projected for fiscal 2010 is the same, roughly $2.3 billion,” Bloomberg said.

When asked about possibly raising taxes in the future, the mayor said it was too early to discuss it, but added, "We cannot balance the budget just by cutting more. We can do more than we have and we will."  Bloomberg Addresses Wall Street Crisis, ‘Quality of Life,’ Potential Tax Hikes