Although federal authorities announced the contractor who headed the controversial CityTime automated payroll project will pay over $500 million in restitution, which will largely to to the New York City’s coffers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the sudden cash infusion won’t be a budget panacea.
“We start out for the year after this with something like a 3 billion dollar deficit projected, so this will help close that,” Mr. Bloomberg said while simultaneously cautioning the budget will be one “where we have to make choices of ‘either or.'”
“We are not going to be able to do as many things this time as we would like to do, and that’s certainly going to be true for the forseeable future,” he continued. “So this is not free money that we can all of a sudden grab and spend.”
The scandal-tarred project ran years and hundreds of millions of dollars over its original projections, and had previously been one of the most significant black marks on New York City government in recent years. Mr. Bloomberg’s critics have frequently cited it when accusing him of overreliance on outside contractors. Indeed, Comptroller John Liu hinted a similar argument in a statement today, saying, “CityTime epitomizes enormous waste enabled by a combination of woeful mismanagement and corrupt outside consultants.”
Today’s announcement, which Mr. Bloomberg hailed as occurring on a “great day,” substantially softened the blow the project had inflicted on the city.
However, as Mr. Bloomberg noted, restitution isn’t the ideal way to receive large amounts of money.
“I wish we found $500 million dollars in a more pleasant way,” he said.