Williams vows to stop collection of property taxes if budget doesn’t include NYPD hiring freeze

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams threatened on Tuesday to block the city budget after the fact by invoking an obscure City Charter rule that requires his sign off on the collection of property taxes.

Williams, an outspoken critic of Mayor de Blasio’s handling of the NYPD, said Tuesday morning he would prevent the budget from being executed if it does not include an NYPD hiring freeze and reforms to school safety.

His gambit would effectively block the city from carrying out its budget by refusing to sign tax warrants, which Williams said would block the city from collecting property taxes.

“If we have a hiring freeze for every single city agency, that should include the NYPD,” Williams said. “By just saying we’re hiring additional police officers, I think it’s sending the wrong message at a time where everybody’s clamoring for a different discussion about what public safety means and law enforcement’s role in it.”

Williams is also demanding that the city push its school safety officers to use a restorative justice model in the city’s public schools.

“My push is for those two things to happen, and if they don’t, I’ll use my charter abilities to get that done,” he said. “The mayor has very much bungled this conversation.”

De Blasio’s spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said Williams’ description of the budget as excluding the NYPD from a hiring freeze is “inaccurate.”

“The NYPD budget is being cut by a historic $1 billion while maintaining safety on our streets,” she said. “The budget is effective as soon as Council passes it and is certified only by the mayor, comptroller, and city clerk.”

Previous public advocates have not attempted such a move, but Williams said lawyers in his office have examined existing law and believe he’s on firm legal ground to move forward.

“We’ve taken a while to look at this,” he said, “We believe it’s pretty sound.”

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