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Council Approves $63B City Budget by 48-1 Vote

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The City Council has approved the $63 billion budget that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn agreed to last week.

The budget cuts spending on almost all services, but also preserves many things that had been on the chopping block -- including firehouses, public pools and much of the funding for city schools.

The budget passed 48-to-1, with the only dissenting vote from East New York Council Member Charles Barron.

Quinn says the recession has made budgeting for the coming year especially difficult.

"It was harder this year because last year we had the benefit of the significant amount of federal stimulus money," she says.

The coming year's budget sees a 20 percent drop in discretionary spending on "member items" -- the controversial grants individual council members make to community groups. The 51 council members are still doling out almost $165 million.

Among the grants are $10,000 by Brooklyn Councilman Dominic Recchia for boardwalk fireworks, $3,500 by Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson for singing at senior centers and $15,000 by Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook for trash receptacles. Queens Councilman Peter Koo allocated $3,000 to "hire a hip hop instructor as well as a film instructor. Also to pay for an overnight trip to provide youth with the opportunity to experience recreational activities such as snowboarding and skiing."