Tag Archives: Bloomberg budget

Mayor’s budget could cut Borough President staff by half


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Half the staff at Borough Hall could get pink slips if cuts proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg go through.

Borough President Helen Marshall’s office is expected to receive about $3.14 million in funding for the 2014 fiscal year—nearly $1.8 million less than last year—officials announced at Marshall’s Borough Board meeting on Monday, May 13.

If the budget is approved, the cuts will result in half the staff’s dismissal, according to Chief of Staff Alexandra Rosa.

There were roughly 88 employees when Marshall was first elected in 2002, according to spokesperson Dan Andrews. If this year’s cuts go through, the current staff of 54 could be reduced to fewer than 30.

“This has somehow become a discretionary item,” Rosa said. “Funding for the borough president’s office should not be a discretionary item.”

Marshall said she is concerned over many of the cuts proposed in Bloomberg’s budget, particularly to her staff and to after school programs.

“We have to justify everything we ask for,” she said. “Our responsibility is to spend the people’s money.

We’ve got to spend it carefully and we have got to make sure that it’s going to really help our people. And that’s what we do.”

Cuts to discretionary funds would also result in the reduction or elimination of services to the elderly and the disabled. Five senior centers would have to close, according to Marshall’s office.

The facilities include the Kew Gardens Senior Center, the Forest Park Senior Center in Woodhaven, the SAGE/Queens Senior Center in Jackson Heights, the Korean American Senior Center of Flushing and the LeFrak Senior Center in Elmhurst.

Andrews said the borough president’s office was still performing the same functions it did in 1989, when its role was last updated in the City Charter, but with a significantly smaller staff.

“We are not a city agency,” he said. “We are the office of an elected official with charter-mandated responsibilities.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bloomberg delivers final budget address


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office Flickr /Edward Reed

In his final budget address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a balanced plan that focuses on reducing costs wherever possible, including some city employee benefits.

Bloomberg’s plans, which take effect in July, include promoting a recent spike in private sector hiring and readjusting health care and pensions for city workers.

There will be no new taxes this year, the mayor announced.

Jobs are up this year, hizzoner said, attributing the spike to a demand for professional services and hospitality posts throughout the city. January numbers showed 3.3 million people were privately employed, many in the hospitality, technology and retail industries.

However, the city has seen a drop in the financial services sector. Bloomberg said that was partly due to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The federal act, passed in 2010, aims to ensure accountability and transparency in large banks and end tax payer bailouts.

“Dodd-Frank is not good for our city,” Bloomberg said. “All these banks are cutting back their employees. And a lot of the ways we made money, on which we taxed them and paid for police, fire, education have gone away. This is really bad news for us.”

Because the state has continued to increase pension amounts, Bloomberg said the city is looking for new ways to reduce those costs and work on a plan for employees to pay for part of their health care coverage.

While New York State workers currently pay a portion of their provided healthcare, most city workers do not pay anything. Bloomberg said it would be up to the next mayor to ease the cost on the city and would require significant work with unions.

He added that while Sandy caused devastation, the superstorm would not affect this year’s budget. Bloomberg said the storm caused $4.57 billion in damage to the city, all of which he expects to be covered by federal aid.

“That’s not to say we aren’t that sympathetic to those that were hurt,” he said. “And we’ve got to make sure we continue to do everything we can to help the victims of Sandy. But in the context of the budget, it is not something that really hurts.”

For his successor, Bloomberg is leaving behind a program to close future gaps in the budget that are expected to start by fiscal year 2015. A $2.2 billion budget gap is expected for that year. The city has already set aside $142 million for then.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Leaders want Southeast Queens flooding fixed


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY LIAM LA GUERRE

As Sandy barreled down on the East Coast last year, there was one thing on Helene Martello’s mind.

“Where am I going to move my car?’” she asked.

It wasn’t the first time she feared flooding.

After returning to her Hollis home from a party in 2008, Martello was surprised to find her car submerged in a flood with water reaching as high as the dashboard. “I was upset because you didn’t even think another flood would happen,” Martello, 61, said. “We’ve had sewers put in. They told us everything was going to be okay, and it wasn’t.”

In the latest community effort to get the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to solve flooding in Southeast Queens, nearly a dozen Queens leaders, led by Assemblymember William Scarborough, met with residents at York College on Thursday, February 28 to explain the importance of action before the Bloomberg administration passes its budget.

At the meeting, Scarborough revealed new legislation he penned to force the city to take financial responsibility for partly causing the flooding issue in Queens. He introduced a lawyer who will attempt to file a consolidated suit against the city, combining as many residents’ evidence of property damage they can find.

“We’re looking to get money damages for their ongoing damage of having cellars and basements that are inundated with water and have to be pumped out regularly,” said attorney Mark Seitelman.

The DEP has invested more than $1.5 billion into developing the area’s sewer system, and has about 200 projects in place for the next 10 years that are worth another billion, according to an agency spokesperson. Late last year the agency began a new pilot plan to insert three basins throughout areas in Jamaica that would collect and pump out millions of gallons of water each day.

It helped, but not enough, residents said. They want some former wells reopened, but the DEP refused to do that until 2018 when the city plans to temporarily close and repair the Delaware Aqueduct, an upstate resource where the city gets half its water.

The DEP is not responsible for the underground water, but elements like rain or snow can cause floods, a DEP representative said. The agency is testing the wells and the quality of water for functionality and at this moment is not sure if they are usable.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bloomberg budget takes aim at after-school programs, teachers’ jobs


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Child Center of NY

When millions in after-school program funding was cut in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget last year, parents held rallies, wrote letters and made phone calls until the City Council restored $150 million, saving these programs for thousands of children.

The support greatly touched Deep Ghosh, director of youth development for The Child Center of NY, which provides 15 after-school programs in Queens — and he hopes it will move him once again.

The after-school program money that was restored last year will run out in late June, and, despite protests, the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2014 preliminary budget still axed 700,000 hours, or around $135 million, from these programs.

“Just like last year, 47,000 children are set to lose access to after-school and early education programs – programs proven to help children succeed while parents work to support their families,” said Michelle Yanche, assistant executive director for government and external relations at Good Shepherd Services. “The same parents and providers will be forced to fight for the same funding that they were just given a few months ago. How can this be happening, after all we’ve heard from our city leaders about making children a priority?”

“I think people underestimate the value that [after-school programs] bring to developing young people into well-rounded individuals,” said Ghosh.

The Child Center of NY depends on approximately 75 to 80 percent of its funding from the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), said Ghosh.

With these cuts, around 1,000 of their children would not have programming that keeps them safe and helps support working parents, he said.

During last year’s proposed cuts, some parents told Ghosh that they would need to quit their jobs if there were no afterschool programs for their children.

Though the mayor’s budget included $6.5 billion in savings, it also made other cuts affecting the city’s students, after millions in funding and grants were lost when teacher evaluation talks failed last week.

According to the mayor, these cuts could result in the loss of 700 teachers through attrition this year, $67 million less for school supplies and the reduction of extracurricular funds.

For a full summary of the mayor’s financial plan, visit www.nyc.gov/html/omb.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES