Against the backdrop of tough economic times, Mayor David N. Dinkins yesterday presented a report card that graded how New York City provided services in fiscal 1991 and outlined "how many of our fears have come true and how many have not."
The report, a barometer of the city's quality of life, presented a vivid picture of fewer and fewer services being offered and more and more New Yonkers seeking public assistance.
And while some successes were noted, the overall tone of the report sounded somber: The ravages of the recession have taken a steep toll on the city.
The city's welfare roll, the report notes, is expected to swell to a projected 988,000 in fiscal 1992 from the 932,000 recorded in fiscal 1991. The last time the city saw 1 million people on public assistance was in 1976, the height of the Big Apple's last fiscal crisis.
At the same time, more policy officers are expected to be on the beat by end the of fiscal 1992. The city plans to have a total force of 29,144 by the end of the fiscal year, up from 27,397 in fiscal 1991, the report says.
"In the past 20 months, we have confronted extraordinary fiscal challenges, having to close budget gaps totaling some $8 billion," Mayor Dinkins said in a statement. The mayor presented the 752-page document -- which compares the delivery of services from 38 city agencies in fiscal 1991, which ended June 30, to the level delivered in fiscal 1990 -- in the old Board of Estimate room at City Hall.
"This report outlines how many of our fears have come true and how many have not," Mayor Dinkins said. "While the news is not as good as we would have liked to be, it is not nearly so bad as some had predicted." Since Mayor Dinkins assumed office on Jan. 1, 1990, he and his administration have spent a good deal of time stanching the budget wounds caused by the deep recession. For fiscal 1992, the $28.5 billion budget calls for roughly $2 billion in service reductions.
"There is obviously an explosive demand in the social welfare area," said Raymond Horton, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a fiscal watchdog group. "It is an area [in which] we have chosen not to invest our resources during retrenchment."
The report covers the spectrum of city services. For example, under the section covering the Fire Department, it was noted that the number of structural fires and the civilian deaths caused by fires has dropped.
The report also noted that housing for the homeless saw the implementation of strong efforts that lead to uplifting results. The city produced a record number of apartments for homeless families in fiscal 1991.
Some 4,173 apartments were provided for the homeless, an increase of 4% over 1990 and the largest number of units ever created for that group in a single fiscal year, the report notes.
The Department of Transportation in-house and contractor forces resurfaced and reconstructed 1,564 lane-miles in fiscal 1991, up from 1,410 lane-miles in 1990, the report notes. About 295 scheduled bridge inspections were conducted, up 13.9%.
The School Construction Authority completed 12 construction projects, including three additions and three mini-schools that will provide space for 1,484 students.