Tag Archives: budget

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Becoming partly cloudy after some morning light rain. Fog early. High 66. Winds SW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 41. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Meets Istanbul – An Exhibition of Charcoal Drawings

Meliksah Soyturk’s “New York Meets Istanbul” is an exhibition which brings the above words to life…. transporting us, through the Artist’s eye, through time and space, to another Continent. Through his work, he is bringing together two of the most wonderful cities in the world and two vastly different, yet undeniably similar cultures. At Flushing Town Hall through Sunday, April 13. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens cab driver arrested in West Hempstead hit and run

A cab driver from Queens is under arrest and facing charges in connection with a hit and run on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Sen. Smith’s fraud and bribery trial set for June

A federal judge on Monday ordered state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s fraud and bribery trial to begin June 2, quietly rejecting the powerful Queens Democrat’s bid to push the date back a few months so he could smoothly seek re-election. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Average woman in the city earns 82 cents for man’s dollar, controller study shows

It’s still a man’s world — even in progressive New York City. Read more: New York Daily News

City Council plans 10 percent raise in its budget

Belt-tightening is out and free spending is in at the City Council, which plans to increase its own budget by more than 10 percent in a single year — six times the rate of inflation. Read more: New York Post

NTSB: Engineer in fatal Metro-North derailment has ‘severe obstructive sleep apnea’

Federal investigators have found that the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed and left four people dead and dozens more injured has a serious sleep disorder. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Get a closer look at the city’s snow clearing budget


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 5, 10:00 a.m.

The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) spends millions of dollars on salt each year to keep the city’s drivers from slipping and sliding.

Millions more are spent in overtime for the men and women who clear the city’s roads.

The DSNY’s current budget for the 2013-2014 snow season is $57.3 million, and is spent on salt, vehicle and equipment parts, maintenance, cleaning, plows and motor vehicle fuel, according to a department spokesperson.

The 2011-2012 budget was $51.7 million. Each year’s budget is calculated by averaging the snow budget of the past five years, excluding the most recent year.

“I don’t have the most up-to-date figures, but I can say we’re within the parameters of what’s budgeted. We’ll see how it goes from here.”  Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Tuesday.

DSNY Commissioner John Doherty, in an interview with Good Day New York Wednesday morning, said the department would “no doubt” exceed its budget this year. The budget, however, doesn’t dictate how DSNY operates, he added.

Every snow season, the DSNY starts with approximately 250,000 tons of rock salt, the department spokesperson said. This year it cost the city about $13.4 million.

But with three major snowfalls already this season, that amount is gone, according to the spokesperson. The DSNY, however, “can replenish the supply at any time.”

Though the amount is likely to go up, more salt has been used in past years, according to city statistics.

For fiscal year 2011, 61.5 inches of snow fell, and 353,769 tons of salt was utilized.

During that period, $62.4 million was spent on snow overtime. When deployed to clear snow and ice, DNSY employees are on special 12-hour shifts.

Last season, 24 inches of snow fell and 183,597 tons of salt were utilized, with over $16 million in overtime, according to a DSNY performance report.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 47. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Low near 35. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.

“Miracle on the Hudson” survivors mark 5 years

The pilot, crew and passengers who were on board a plane that made an extraordinary landing on the Hudson River are marking the fifth anniversary of that remarkable day. Read more: NBC New York

Gov panel slaps Bill de Blasio agenda with pre-K charters

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to impose limits on charter schools hit a brick wall Tuesday when a state commission recommended expanding the privately run schools by allowing them to add pre-K classes. Read more: New York Post

Report says Metro-North derailment caused $9 million in damage

Officials said Tuesday that the Metro-North derailment in the Bronx caused more than $9 million in damage. Read more: CBS New York

New York, San Francisco prosecutors join forces to investigate Monster Energy Drinks

The San Francisco city attorney and New York state attorney general have joined forces to investigate whether Monster Beverage Corp. is marketing its highly caffeinated drinks to children. Read more: NBC New York

House ready to OK government-wide $1.1T budget 

Shunning the turmoil of recent budget clashes, Congress is ready to approve a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill for this year, a compromise financing everything from airports to war costs and brimming with victories and setbacks for both parties. Read more: AP

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Plenty of sunshine. High near 35. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Generally clear. Low 27. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jackson Heights Orchestra concert

The Jackson Heights Orchestra will perform a concert at the Community United Methodist Church on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30 p.m. featuring music by Handel, Mozart, Bach, Suk, Haydn. Soprano soloist Winnie Nieh will be performing with the orchestra, led by Conductor Pat Glunt. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Black ice warnings after 21-car pileup in Brooklyn

Black ice is again expected to be a concern for the morning commute after it contributed to a massive pileup in Brooklyn and shut down a stretch of the Long Island Expressway Tuesday evening. Read more: NBC New York

Preet Bharara goes after pensions of thieving former New York City Council members

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is making good on his promise to go after the pensions of city politicians nailed for corruption. Read more: New York Daily News 

De Blasio to hold open house after inauguration

The inauguration for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be followed by an open house at Gracie Mansion a few days later, the future mayor’s team announced Tuesday. Read more: NBC New York

2 winning tickets in $636M Mega Millions drawing

The two winning Mega Millions tickets were sold in California and Georgia, lottery officials said Wednesday. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bipartisan budget agreement nears final passage

A modest, bipartisan budget pact designed to keep Washington from lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis and ease the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts is on the brink of passing the Senate. Read more: AP

 

Libraries get funding to expand


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Maggie Hayes

Ten-year-old Darius Barnes was upset when he learned his local Laurelton library might be closing.

“I didn’t want it to close,” he said. “The library has helped me.”

Barnes goes to the library after school, where he has been able to do homework and projects, as well as take courses in Mandarin with the site’s manager, Dave Wang.

When the budget for the 2014 Fiscal Year was initially proposed, library funding was set for across-the-board cuts. Ultimately, the cuts put the Rosedale and Laurelton libraries at risk of closure. The community and the City Council responded and were able to take the cuts out of the budget altogether.

Additionally, Councilmember Donovan Richards allocated nearly $3 million in extra funding to expand his district’s libraries.

“This library is my second home,” said Ruth Wright, 11, at the Laurelton site.

Wright, just as Barnes, visits the library after school and said not only has it given her a place to do homework, but also has given her the opportunity to meet new friends.

“Cutting funding to our libraries is the same as cutting funding to our youth,” Richards said.

Libraries are the central parts of the neighborhoods, he said, and these allocated funds will kick off a long-term project of expanding and improving the Laurelton, Rosedale and Rockaway libraries.

“Learning is the key. That’s what this library is about,” said Dwight Johnson, president of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton. “This is what we need in our community.”

Richards’ goal is to allocate $3 million a year for district libraries. He said the Rosedale library will take $7 million to fully expand and complete and $11 million for Laurelton.

“The idea is to give young adults a safe place where they can congregate and grow, with the latest technologies – this gives them a reason to stay in the libraries and off the streets,” he said.

Bayside rallies to save after-school program


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A community rallied in Bayside to save a beloved Beacon program from another year of budget cuts.

“This feels like déjà vu. Year in and year out, we have more and more budget cuts,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot balance budgets on the backs of our students.”

The after-school enrichment program at M.S. 158 Marie Curie is slated for closure at the end of the school year. It was saved from the chopping block by the City Council last year after the Department of Youth and Community Development tried to shut down seven Beacons across the city.

“These types of cuts go on year after year. It’s a continual battle with the city to restore the funding,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We have a fight on our hands, but the community stands behind this Beacon center.”

Beacon has been a “support system” for 20 years and the only program within Community Board 11, said Martenia Miller, site director of the school’s Beacon program.

More than 100 students take part in the enrichment program daily. Nearly 70 of them are on the school’s honor roll, Miller said.

Community Board 11 chair Jerry Iannece said the city mistakes the program as a luxury.

“This is a necessity,” he said. “Although we live in an affluent area with nice homes, lots of the kids who go to the Beacon program are kids who need it. We all have to rally our forces, circle our wagons and do everything we can to keep this program here.”

Beacon operates after school, on weekends, school holidays and throughout the summer. It focuses on leadership and skill growth, serving youth and adults.

There are 80 Beacon programs citywide.

Miller said the program at M.S. 158 boasts a talented chamber orchestra, a dance team, literacy classes and gym.

“Beacon helps kids get a place to stay, helps unemployment, helps kids socialize and become more active,” said Anna Poubouridis, 13. “In my opinion, those are some very important things.”

 

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State passes budget ahead of deadline


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Lawmakers in Albany, for the third straight year, passed an on-time budget last night when the Assembly approved the 2013-14 fiscal plan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo in a video to New Yorkers touted its early approval as a sign that New York was on its way back after years of dysfunction.

“My friends, it is springtime and things long dormant show new life and rebirth,” he said. “That’s how I feel about our great state. New York is coming back. New York is rising and we are building on our strengths.”

The budget was approved well ahead of the April 1 deadline, which is the start on the 2013-14 Fiscal Year. In past years, the budget was often weeks, if not months, behind schedule.

Senators approved the budget during a late night session that carried into Wednesday morning. After a day’s worth of debates, the Assembly voted to approve the budget just before midnight Thursday.

Middle class families will get their second year of tax cuts, Cuomo said. This, along with public-private partnerships, is part of New York’s low-tax, business friendly initiatives, he added.

“Not since Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers have taxes in this state been so low,” he said.

 

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Cuomo, state lawmakers reach budget deal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Office

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature have reached a deal for the 2013-2014 budget and expect to pass it before the April 1 deadline.

“This budget agreement puts New York on track to have the third consecutive on-time, balanced budget that holds increases in spending under two percent, while investing in our economy to create jobs and cutting taxes for middle class families and small businesses. This budget symbolizes the tremendous progress that has been made in Albany and demonstrates that the new New York government is once again working for the people of this state,” Cuomo said.

In a release, the governor outlined the agreement, which includes a new $350 tax credit for  middle class families and an increase in the minimum wage to $9 per hour:

  • A Balanced, On-time Budget that Invests in Creating Jobs and Cuts Taxes: The Budget closes a $1.3 billion gap with no new taxes or fees. New York State has not had three consecutive on-time or early budgets since 1984 and has not had a budget on track to pass this far before the April 1 deadline since 1976.
  • Cutting Taxes for Middle Class Families: Recognizing that New York’s taxpayers have been overtaxed for too long, the Budget includes $1.125 billion in new tax cuts to middle class families over three years. Families with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000 will be eligible to receive a new child tax credit of $350 per year for three years, beginning in 2014.
  • Tax Cuts for Small Businesses: To provide tax relief to New York’s job creators, the Budget includes nearly $800 million in tax relief for New York businesses over three years. With this tax relief, the Budget recognizes that cutting taxes sends a positive sign to the private sector that New York is pro-business and helps reverse New York’s longstanding reputation as the tax capital of the nation.
  • Hiring Tax Credits: To help New York’s returning soldiers and young people find work, the Budget includes a permanent tax credit for the hiring of Veterans, and $181 million in tax credits over three years for businesses that hire youth.
  • Reducing Costs and Red Tape for Businesses: To reduce the crushing burden of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, the Budget modernizes and simplifies both systems to provide employers $1.3 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits.
  • Investing in the Economy of Tomorrow: The Budget provides the initial funding to launch the Innovation Hot Spots program that will create or designate ten high-tech innovation incubators at locations affiliated with higher education institutions to encourage private-sector growth; a $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund that will provide critical seed and early-stage funding to incentivize new business formation and growth in New York State and facilitate the transition from ideas and research to marketable products.
  • Workforce Training for Job Openings: New York’s workforce training is from a different era and a generic job training program does not fit today’s economy. The Budget capitalizes on the opportunity of an estimated 210,000 unfilled jobs in the state by including $5 million for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that works with employers to: identify the job; define the skill; and provide the training for it.
  • Protecting the Environment and Creating Green Jobs: The Budget increases support for the Environmental Protection Fund and the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, to launch new projects across the state that both create green jobs and protect New York’s natural environment.
  • Building on the Success of the Regional Councils: The Budget includes a third round of the Regional Economic Development Councils including $150 million in new funding and $70 million in tax credits.
  • Promoting Upstate Tourism and Agriculture through Market NY: To bolster tourism and better market NY-made foods and produce, the Budget launches the Market NY initiative.
  • SUNY and CUNY Campuses Driving Private Sector Job Creation: The Budget includes a third round of the SUNY 2020 program and launches the CUNY 2020 program to provide competitive grants for projects that connect economic development and academic excellence. ($110 million)
  • Increasing Funding for Education: The Budget reflects New York State’s focus on creating a world-class education system that will fully prepare all of New York’s students to compete in the 21st Century economy. To accomplish the goal, the Budget includes an increase of nearly $1 billion in education aid.
  • Pre-kindergarten Program Expansion: Recognizing that quality early education is critical for long-term success and that children who attend full-day pre-k often outperform their peers, the Budget provides additional investments in pre-kindergarten with an emphasis on high quality, full-day pre-k. Funding is targeted toward higher need students in lower wealth school districts via a competitive process. ($25 million)
  • State Increases Tied to Teacher Evaluations: To maintain New York State’s leadership in holding teachers accountable for student achievement, the Budget continues to tie increases in funding for education to the implementation of a teacher evaluation system. No teacher evaluations means no state increase.
  • Extended Learning Time: Our existing education calendar is still based on an agrarian system and the United States lags behind other nations in terms of how much time students spend in the classroom. In order to provide increased learning opportunities, the Budget supports high-quality extended school day or extended school year programs, with academically enriched programming. Schools that apply to participate in the program must agree to expand learning time by 25 percent. The state will cover the full cost of expanding learning time for students. ($20 million)
  • Community Schools: Recognizing that a school is not just a “school” in distressed communities and that the demands of schools in wealthier districts are different than demands in lowest wealth districts, the Budget supports an innovative program designed to transform schools into community hubs that integrate social, health and other services, as well as after-school programming to support students and their families. ($15 million)
  • Reward High-Performing Teachers: To improve results and incentive high-performance, the Budget implements a program that will offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers beginning with math and science teachers. ($11 million)
  • Early College High School Programs: To improve college access and success, the Budget provides new state funding to expand Early College High School programs. ($4 million)
  • Bar Exam for Teachers: To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting.
  • Raises the Minimum Wage: Recognizing that New York’s minimum wage is unlivable and that 19 other states have higher minimum wages than New York, the Budget raises the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9.00/hour over three years, beginning with $8.00 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9.00 by the end of 2015.
  • Lowering and Phasing Out the 18-a Utility Assessment: The Temporary Utility Assessment on electric, gas, water and steam utilities would be phased out over three years beginning in 2014-15.
  • Pension Stabilization Program: The Budget includes a Pension Stabilization Program that has been agreed to by the State Comptroller’s Office for local governments to access short term relief as the savings of Tier VI begin to take effect.
  • Public Service Commission Reform: The Budget includes a number of reforms that were recommended by the Moreland Commission to give the Public Service Commission greater authority over the state’s utilities.

 

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Cuomo budget centers on job creation, education improvements


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Flickr/Governor Cuomo's  Office

In his budget outline for the coming year, Governor Andrew Cuomo focused on job creation and improving education, promising to improve the lives of New Yorkers across the state.

In addition to jobs and education, Cuomo’s proposal, NY Rising, addresses fiscal integrity and discipline and restoring the state as a progressive beacon.

Cuomo proposed an initiative that partners small start-ups with the state in order to retain companies and growth in New York. This included forgoing raising and adding supplementary taxes for businesses.

According to the governor, New York has the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years.

Cuomo added he will be increasing minimum wage to $8.75.

Regarding education, Cuomo stated the inequities between schools for wealthy and impoverished students cause devastating discrepancies. The newly proposed budget includes a boost of $889 million, one of the largest increases in educational aid in years.

Other important issues touched upon were the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana and a women’s equality act, both of which he hopes will be introduced in the coming year.

Throughout his address, Cuomo continued to remind the crowd that New York will continue to be a progressive and innovative state.

“This state is not just another state. This state is New York,” said Cuomo. “And when New York acts, the nation follows. And this state has had a great history of being the progressive capital, of doing things first, figuring out problems first, and we led the way.”

 

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New Year’s Eve fashion on a budget


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

fashion

Skirt (Papaya): $10.99

Sequin top (Papaya ): $15.99

Fur Vest (Papaya):  $19.99

Booties (Afaze): $38.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacket (H&M):  $79.95

Slacks (H&M): $34.99

Shirt (J.C. Penney): $20

Bow Tie (J.C. Penney): $20

Shoes (J.C. Penney): $50

 

 

 

 

 

Dress (H&M): $14.95

Booties (Afaze): $38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacket (H&M): $79.50

Vest (H&M): $29.95

Shirt (J.C. Penney): $45

Slacks (H&M): $34.95

Tie (J.C. Penney): $20

Shoes (J.C. Penney): $80

Top wedding trends for brides on a budget


| ara@queenscourier.com

For brides-to-be, the big day seems like it comes with a big price tag – but it doesn’t have to. The season’s top wedding trends pair elegance and affordability with options to make an event that is uniquely “you.”

To stay within your budget, follow these wedding trends.

* Outdoor weddings offer romance at a reasonable price

Perhaps no other setting is more romantic than the outdoors. Mother Nature provides the best backdrop for your special occasion. Outdoor weddings can be more affordable as parks or gardens typically offer rental areas at a reasonable rate. Know a relative with a beautiful yard? Ask them if you can host your wedding there. Then all you have to do is rent the supplies, such as chairs, tents and archways from your local rental store.

* Create a fun eating environment for less

The reception is often the largest cost of hosting a wedding. Budget-wise brides are choosing locations where you can provide your own food and drinks. Food stations, rather than a typical buffet, can be set up around the reception room offering different types of food, such as salad bar, pasta and desserts. You can rent everything you need to keep food fresh and serve it in style so you don’t have to worry.

* Add personal accessories for a lasting look

The gown is an important part of being a beaming bride, but it can be a large expense. Get a beautiful look with plenty of personality, without breaking the bank. Start with a simple gown and accessorize it to suit your tastes. Add a splash of color with a bright sash or flashy shoes. Hair accessories provide a fashionable option at little cost. Shorter veils are very popular and cost much less than longer options.

* Create homemade floral arrangements

Once you add up the bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres and more, your floral expense can be shocking. Brides are choosing to take a personal approach by gathering friends and family to create the flower pieces. Get together and create the masterpieces for the big day while enjoying food, drink and each other’s company. It’s a great way to bond and save money, while creating something beautiful and meaningful.

* Forgo the expensive wedding planner

Brides are choosing to rent versus buy supplies for food service, decor, entertainment and more to save money. Renting has never been more stylish, with a variety of options to make any bride’s vision come true. Some rental businesses have Certified Event Rental Professionals (CERPs) on site. These professionals can share their knowledge and experience, from pre-wedding set-up all the way through the day of the event, helping to relieve the stress of planning a wedding. Look for the gold CERP icon when searching for your wedding needs.

 

Budget bias


| letters@queenscourier.com

Once again, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has removed the veil of her Manhattan liberal independent reformer image to reveal that she is a seasoned Democratic party machine leader. She follows in the fine tradition of her predecessors, former Council Speakers Gifford Miller, Peter Vallone and the late Tom Cuite of Brooklyn.

In January 2010, Quinn announced her appointments of various Council committee chairpersons. Councilmembers loyal to their respective county organizations (the ones that endorsed her candidacy for speaker) were rewarded with salary increases known as lulus ranging from $4,000 to $28,000 to chair Council committees. These were raised again in January 2011 and 2012. The average salary for a New Yorker is $41,000 per year. A councilmember’s base salary is $112,500 plus bonuses, for a part-time job.

Under Quinn’s reign, it continues to be the usual political quid pro quo with councilmembers. Vote as instructed by the speaker and members will continue to receive the perks of office. These include salary bonuses for chairing Council committees, extra cash for local district offices, staff and mailings, along with your share of several hundred million dollars available for funding local neighborhood pork-barrel projects to grease the wheels of re-election.

There are clear consequences when you vote against the wishes of Quinn and speak your mind on behalf of constituents, taxpayers and common sense as Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley has on numerous occasions. Quinn sent a clear message to Crowley when discretionary spending for her district was cut from $660,000 to $378,321 in the recently adopted 2012 municipal budget.

The five county Democratic political bosses don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, man or woman — just play ball like Quinn and you’re welcome to the smoke-filled clubhouse back rooms!

Larry Penner

 

Budget blues no more


| letters@queenscourier.com

In our current economic climate, members of the City Council must make difficult decisions as they develop and approve the city budget.

This budget season, District 26 City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer has once again shown himself to be a tireless advocate for the needs of our community.

Thanks to Van Bramer, Speaker Quinn and other members of the City Council, all 10 after-school programs in the district will be able to continue providing critically important services to children and working parents. Were it not for the work of Van Bramer, many of these programs would have been forced to close. He has ensured that over 1,700 students will have a structured place to go after school where they can discover and develop their talents and build upon school-day learning.

Additionally, the councilmember successfully advocated to restore funding to senior centers, case management services, libraries, and a myriad of other human services and arts programs in Queens.

On behalf of Sunnyside Community Services and the thousands of people we serve, I salute Van Bramer and his excellent staff for the work they’ve done on behalf of the community.

 

Judy Zangwill

Executive Director

Sunnyside Community Services

 

Despite 5 years of cuts, Queens Library retained all service hours and jobs


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Despite five consecutive years of budget cuts that eliminated more than $16 million in operating expenses, the Queens Library will begin a new chapter — with all jobs and service hours retained.

“Given the staggering cuts we were facing, to not have one library close, not one library reduce its hours, to keep libraries where they’re at, was a tremendous victory,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who chairs the City Council’s committee on libraries.

The libraries’ budget was threatened with $26 million in reductions, which would have forced 18 of the borough’s 62 institutions to shut their doors. Thirty more would have had to close at least four days a week.

Rallies were held throughout the borough to prevent the city from closing the book on Queens libraries.

“We’re very, very grateful the council kept the libraries a priority,” said Joanne King, associate director of communications for the Queens Library. “We will stay open in every community and everyone in Queens should be very grateful for that.”

Six hundred staffers’ jobs were also saved with the restoration.

“I heard when [the budget] was announced there were workers literally in tears knowing their jobs had been saved,” said Van Bramer, who worked for the Queens Library before being elected. “That’s something I’m really proud of, that we saved jobs.”

Though the “doomsday budget” did not pass, the library still had $1.8 million slashed for this fiscal year, which began on July 1. The ongoing hiring freeze will also reduce staff. The library employs about 200 fewer staffers than four years ago.

Less staff means the library needs to get creative so no service is affected, King said.

To prevent further cuts, Van Bramer said libraries’ budgets can’t be radically reduced in early financial plans. Steep cuts to the preliminary and executive budget make restoring all the money more difficult and puts “libraries’ backs against the wall,” the councilmember said.

“We have to not start so far behind,” said Van Bramer, who added the council will look to restore funds as the economy improves. “What we’re going to need to do under a new mayor is not cut libraries to the bone in the preliminary budget.”

Balanced budget saves child care, libraries and fire companies


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the mayor's office

Without raising the tax bar, education, child care, libraries and other city services will be spared – despite original concerns of heavy cuts – in the 2013 Fiscal Year budget, city officials announced Monday, June 25 attributing the balanced budget to several cost-saving methods.

“When times were better, the city set aside surplus revenue — and when the first storm clouds gathered in 2007, we began cutting budgets,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “These actions — and our work over the past decade to diversify the economy and make it less reliant on Wall Street — have allowed us avoid the severe service cuts that many other cities are facing.”

About $150 million will be added from the mayor’s May Executive Budget, which proposed a large child care cut, to the Administration for Children’s Services Child Care Program and the Department of Youth and Community Development Out-of-School Time program, ensuring child care stays well-funded in the City.

The funding is a major accomplishment for child care, said Gregory Brender, policy advisor for United Neighborhood Houses.

“It’s a big victory for child care,” he said. “Losing spots was terrifying to parents around the city.”

In addition, roughly 1,000 teachers will be added, it was announced, and several hundred teacher’s aide jobs will be spared.

Because of about $90 million going toward the library system, more than 600 Queens Library jobs will be saved, according to a statement from the Library. There will also be no cuts to hours, but there will be limited reductions to services, said Joanne King, Queens Library associate director of communications.

“Our advocates in City Hall have kept libraries a priority through the last several budgets,” she said. “We know the people of Queens will be very appreciative.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who chairs the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, said the twenty fire houses saved from elimination was a relief to New Yorkers and they would continue to keep the city safe.

“We can all rest assured knowing that the people of the city of New York will be safe,” Crowley said. “Closing even one fire company would have reduced response times and people’s lives would have hung in the balance. So for me today it’s gratifying to know that’s one less worry.”

Although the budget is balanced and ahead of the June 30 deadline, the Mayor’s office acknowledged there will be a $2.5 billion budget gap for the 2014 fiscal year.

“We face a significant challenge again next year, but given the effective and fiscally responsible partnership we’ve had with the Council – and the leadership we know we can rely on from Speaker Christine Quinn – I’m confident we’ll meet any challenges that arise,” Bloomberg said.

Additional reporting by Billy Rennison