NYC’s next money manager faces the vital task of rebuilding the city

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Thomas Good | Wikimedia Commons

Angelica Tejada

New York City will be getting a new money manager this year to succeed Comptroller Scott Stringer. The next comptroller’s major areas to allocate more funds should be unemployment, small businesses, social justice, education, housing and homelessness.

The comptroller is the city’s chief financial officer who “safeguards the City’s fiscal health, roots out waste, fraud and abuse in local government, and ensures that municipal agencies serve the needs of all New Yorkers,” according to the Office of the New York City Comptroller website.

City Hall’s budget is overseen by the comptroller and all of the executive decisions on how the budget will be used in several areas are made by the elected official. The comptroller has 800 staff members, including accountants, economists, attorneys, researchers and more.

For the comptroller, the term length is four years, and its limit is two consecutive terms. Stringer, who was first elected as comptroller in 2013, has reached his term limit and is now running for mayor.

Considering the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on New York City, whoever takes Stringer’s place will have to guide the city in its economic recovery.

“The next comptroller will be the eyes and ears of how the mayor brings back the economy,” Stringer said, according to The New York Times. “We’re on the edge.”

Currently, 14 candidates are running to take Stringer’s place, some having a clearer plan than others.

Unemployment and the recovery of businesses, specifically small businesses, are vital sectors in New York City that the next comptroller will need to prioritize.

One of the runners, New York State Sen. Brian Benjamin, who represents Harlem and the Upper West Side, has unraveled a full plan to save small businesses and Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, or MWBE.

Included in his plan are initiatives to increase investment in MWBE firms and creating a more equitable system for New York City’s small businesses.

“If he is elected New York City Comptroller, Brian will use all the powers of the office to ensure that every small business in New York is given a fair shot at succeeding and that New York is building an economy that works for every neighborhood,” Benjamin’s campaign website states.

Social justice is another massive area the new comptroller must fund even more so following the increase in anti-Asian violence and police brutality.

Brad Lander, who is a City Council member and who was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has actively criticized the New York Police Department’s conduct.

In June 2020, Lander responded to the thousands of people who called to defund the NYPD following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless more individuals.

“The time has come for bolder action. It is time to defund the police and reimagine our public safety infrastructure,” Lander wrote.

Education is an important sector that the new comptroller will need to focus on, especially with the big change of remote learning that many students, teachers and parents had to navigate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another candidate, State Assembly Member David Weprin, has introduced fully funding education in New York City.

“David will dedicate the audit and investigative powers of the Comptroller’s Office to ensuring that the Department of Education is properly spending our tax dollars to give our kids the best possible education,” Weprin’s campaign website reads in part.

Lastly, housing and homelessness have always been key issues for the comptroller to allocate funds toward, however, it has become an even more pressing issue.

“In February 2021, there were 55,501 homeless people, including 17,375 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system,” according to The Coalition for the Homeless, which is a nonprofit organization that advocates for New York City’s homeless population.

The next comptroller needs to ensure that enough funding is given to initiatives that will end mass homelessness in New York City. Also, to advocate for affordable housing throughout the city that more individuals can afford.

State Sen. Kevin Parker who is also running for comptroller has included housing and homelessness on his agenda.

According to his campaign website, he will work to create rent-regulated units that are actually affordable and review the spending on homeless services to be more effective.

The shape that New York City is in right now economically is tough and the city’s next money manager must place importance on rebuilding the city and helping those that make it such a great place.