By Katie Honan 

New York City will restore some trash-collecting services that were cut earlier this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, after complaints about cleanliness and a recent letter from business leaders urging him to improve what they see as deteriorating conditions.

The mayor said on Tuesday that he would reallocate some funding to the city's Department of Sanitation and other agencies to cover the restored services. The cuts to the department were part of a belt-tightening budget and made in response to a financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said last week that she was resigning, in part, because of cuts.

The reallocated funding brings back litter-basket pickups in 27 neighborhoods that were hit the hardest by Covid-19, Mr. de Blasio said. It also restores a cleanup program focused on commercial corridors which hires members of the nonprofit Doe Fund.

"New Yorkers deserve clean, safe communities and with this announcement today we are continuing to deliver on that promise," Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said.

Litter-basket cleanup was decreased 63% in the budget the mayor and the New York City Council approved on June 30, according to a sanitation department spokesman. The new initiative restores 24% of what was cut, which is still a reduction to services before the coronavirus pandemic.

New York City faces a $9 billion budget deficit and has made cuts at nearly every city agency.

Ms. Garcia criticized the slashing of essential services like garbage pickup, saying it will only further the idea of the city's decline. In an interview last week, she said the dirty streets threatened the city's economic recovery.

"I'm concerned for the city, concerned with what they're asking for from the department," she said.

In a letter sent to Mr. de Blasio last week, 163 business leaders warned of the city's deteriorating conditions and a growing concern about public safety as crime has surged this summer. They asked Mr. de Blasio to restore services that would improve the quality of life in the city.

Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday that the city would also partner with community groups, elected officials and the private sector to sponsor neighborhood cleanups and mobilize volunteers to collect litter.

Businesses can already join the "Adopt-a-Basket" program, where they help with replacing sanitation department-provided trash bags. The sanitation department also supplies brooms, shovels and other tools for community cleanups.

Judy Baron, of the Manhattan Beach Community Group in southern Brooklyn, organized a cleanup at a local park earlier this month, where garbage bins overflowed from less frequent pickup.

"When you take away from the budget, you take away from the people," she said. "We think it's important for the community to help themselves."

Write to Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 15, 2020 19:48 ET (23:48 GMT)

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