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New York mayor and city council reach balanced budget agreement

(Reuters) - New York's mayor and city council came to a handshake agreement late Thursday night for an on-time and balanced budget, of $75 billion, for the next fiscal year.

The budget laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of the City Council designates funds for crime prevention in public housing developments, enhanced services for inmates, free school lunch for middle schoolers, child care for low-income families, and summer jobs for city youths.

"This is one of the earliest agreements in recent history - a result of the productive dynamic we've developed with the Council that ends the cynical budget dance and delivers results for New Yorkers," de Blasio said in a statement.

The deal would mark the ninth consecutive on-time budget approved by the city.

The budget adds roughly $100 million in new expenses but not through tax hikes. De Blasio said the city found savings that allowed for more freedom to spend on other priorities.

The agreement designates $19 million for a plan to reduce violent crime in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments and $17 million to keep 57 NYCHA community and senior centers open. Another $32.5 million is slated for increased programming for inmates with mental illness and to reduce violence at Rikers Island Correctional Facilities. And $6.2 million will help hire 200 police aides to increase the number of uniformed police officers on the streets.

The city will spend $6.25 million to provide free lunches for every middle schooler starting in September, $17.5 million for 17,000 summer youth jobs, and $10 million for child-care vouchers for low-income families.

"Through the Council's advocacy, NYPD will very soon have more cops on the beat to help keep New Yorkers safe, and thousands of children will have access to free lunch through an important pilot program aimed at keeping our children healthy and focused on learning," Mark-Viverito said.

Last week, the city finished its first major bond sale since reaching a multi-billion-dollar labor contract with the public schools teachers' union, and increased the size of the sale to $1 billion from a planned $850 million issuance. All three major rating agencies affirmed the city's AA-rating with a stable outlook.

The mayor also plans to deliver on his promise to provide universal, full-day pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, invest in the prevention and reduction of homelessness, and build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.

(Reporting by Robin Respaut; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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