Kenneth Axelson, Who Troubleshot New York City’s Fiscal Crisis, Dies at 93

Kenneth Axelson outside New York City Hall in 1975, the year he became a deputy mayor to address the city’s financial problems. Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times
Kenneth Axelson outside New York City Hall in 1975, the year he became a deputy mayor to address the city’s financial problems. Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

{NEW YORK TIMES} -Kenneth S. Axelson, a J. C. Penney executive who was foisted on New York City Hall as a deputy mayor during the 1975 fiscal crisis to restore integrity to the city’s extravagant budget, and who left after a year with his goal largely accomplished, died on May 23 in Rockport, Me. He was 93.

The cause was chronic kidney failure, his son Stephen said this week.

Mr. Axelson, at the time a senior vice president for finance and administration at the department-store chain, was enlisted by Mayor Abraham D. Beame at the urging of Gov. Hugh L. Carey of New York and the bankers and other bondholders who had precipitated the crisis by refusing the city’s routine request to borrow more money.

As the first deputy mayor for finance, Mr. Axelson profoundly influenced the administration’s grudging response to what Mayor Beame himself acknowledged were years of “fiscal gymnastics” that had burdened the city with a $3.3 billion cumulative deficit. The annual operating budget then was about $12 billion.

When Mr. Axelson returned to the private sector in 1976, Felix G. Rohatyn, the chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which was created to borrow on the city’s behalf, said Mr. Axelson had “provided a level of integrity to the city’s numbers, and a degree of trust, that was unparalleled.” READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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About Cholo Brooks 15580 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.