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.”