City Councilman Lew Fidler has spent his nights this week at civic meetings railing against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget, which slashes city-funded afterschool programs. Fidler said the cuts are unacceptable, and the city can pay for the service with just a small portion of funds recovered from the CityTime debacle.

The councilman, who also serves as chairman of the Youth Services Committee, bashed the plan to do away with nearly half the slots in the city’s major afterschool programs, calling it “bad public policy.”

“The afterschool programs in our city provide meaningful contact with young people,” Fidler said. “The Mayor’s preliminary budget contains money for 28,000 [down from 78,000 two years ago]. That means that over half of our afterschool programs are closing entirely on September 1. That’s crazy talk.”

Fidler said that the cuts will usher in a new generation of delinquent youths, creating an overwhelming burden on the criminal justice system.

“We’re going to create a whole new generation of  latchkey kids,” Fidler said. “All of that is a disaster. Now let me ask you what you think our local precinct commander thinks of the idea. I guarantee you any penny we save today on not having an afterschool program will cost us a dollar in criminal justice programs tomorrow.”

We have historical proof that if we don’t capture these kids and keep them with good choices … they’re going to find trouble,” he added. “Trouble for you, trouble for them. It makes absolutely no sense.”

Though earlier in the week Fidler noted that, given the city’s financial constraints, some cuts to the program were unacceptable, last night at the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association he noted that recent news revealed a new source of funds to protect the programs in their entirety: CityTime.

The firm responsible for developing an automated payroll project agreed Wednesday to pay the city approximately $500 million it made off the project, for which the budget ballooned from $68 million to nearly $700 million in what is being called one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated against the city.

The recovery of those funds provides a perfect opportunity to restore services like the afterschool program, which saw cuts year after year, Fidler said. He estimated that $50-60 million would restore the program to where it was two years ago.

“There’s no acceptable amount to be cut from the youth programs this time because we took a little piece last time and a little piece the time before,” Fidler said. “If we could use some of [the CityTime] money for the kids, it’s a good investment. Ten cents this year is a dollar next year, and that means money for the DA, the cops and the courts.”

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  • ShadowLock

     i agree 100% i used to enjoy Afterschool programs!

    Why anyone would want to shut it down, is Crazy talk!

  • Andy

     where was Fidler when hundreds of millions were being wasted on CityTime; when the cost went up from the initial $80M to close to $900M?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

       Ask the mayor, the project was his baby.

  • Tinman

    Does Fidler know when the CityTime money will be available to the city? If it’s two years from now, Bloomberg would still propose cuts.

  • http://twitter.com/Lostinservice Lostinservice

    Wouldn’t giving vouchers to private school kids also cut public school funding and subsequently after school programs since they’re the first to be eliminated? CityTime will fund the after school programs for 1 year since the rest of the money will no doubt be used to fill the other holes in the budget and will be gone by the next year. I hope Lew changes his position on the voucher plan if he’s serious about keeping after school programs.

  • Coachedj

    there’s also several hundreds of millions of $ in outstanding Dept. of Buildings/ECB fines that everyone has been ignoring for years; I’ve been unable to get any answer as to exactly how much is outstanding and, importantly, WHY is isn’t being pursued.

  • Ari Kagan

    I agree 100% with Lew Fidler. Money should be spend on after school programs. $540 mln. will be recovered from City Time program within the next eight months.
    Bloomberg never mentioned who discovered the fraud in City Time program and who is responsible for this disaster. Comptroller John Liu and his auditors forced Bloomberg to stop payments to SAIC and then to admit this huge fraud. I also blame former city comptrollers Alan Hevesi and Bill Thompson who never checked these contract.
    Lew Fidler as well as other City Council members had nothing to do with City Time. Mayor Bloomberg is solely responsible for this scandal.

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