Mayoral candidate Joe Melaragno answers NY Times Metro questions on city spending

September 3, 2013 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Kate Taylor and the New York Times posed three questions to the Democrat and Republican mayoral candidates in contested primaries. I’m going straight to the general election ballot in November but I wanted to share my thoughts on City Spending with you.

Would the number of city employees grow or shrink under your administration?

My first priority is providing residents with safe streets, a world-class education system, and a robust economy that promotes job and wage growth for low and middle income New Yorkers. Improvements in information technology and attrition could lead to a smaller city workforce in the years to come, but it would also free up resources for long-neglected city initiatives like park improvements, subway station maintenance, and training programs for adults looking to be better equipped for the modern private workforce.

How would you tackle the rising cost of health insurance premiums for city workers?

I would ensure that city health insurance makes it cheap and easy for city employees to visit any of the numerous urgent care clinics popping up around the city, improving convenience and access to care as well as reducing expenditures on unnecessary emergency room visits. I would also make sure the city played a larger role in negotiating prices with health care providers in the city. The size of the worker pool will allow us to negotiate for lower costs without sacrificing health benefits for employees.

What would you do to reduce overtime in the Police and Fire Departments, without reducing public safety?

I would make sure that the police and fire departments are adequately staffed so that overtime is unnecessary for routine coverage. Hiring new cadets is far cheaper than paying overtime to seasoned officers. For occasions like parades and other special events where overtime is hard to avoid, I would explore the creation of a reserve force similar to the United States Military. Former officers or interested young men and women, will receive adequate training and compensation and will be deployed when a surge in force size is necessary.

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