GOP Councilmen Trash Mayor’s Budget

GOP Councilmen Trash Mayor’s Budget

Monday night’s meeting of the Ronald Reagan Republican Club served as a stage for Councilman Eric Ulrich and City Council Minority Leader James Oddo to unleash anger and outrage over Mayor Bloomberg’s executive budget, and what they say are potentially devastating effects on residents across the city.

Both Republicans pointed out that the Bloomberg administration is doing everything it can to avoid tackling big issues where large sums of money could be saved. “Failure to address the areas where real money could be saved—Medicare and Medicaid, welfare, entitlement programs, pension funds—is the mayor refusing to abandon special interest needs instead of taking care of the taxpayer entitlement,” said Councilman Ulrich. He argued that if the administration wanted to find the money to keep services flowing, they certainly could.

Ulrich said that one way to give the city financial breathing room is to reinstate the commuter tax. “Why anyone would be opposed to taxing people from outside our communities who use our services is ridiculous.” The commuter tax was cut in 1999 and represents a loss of 500 million dollars a year to the city. Oddo echoed the sentiment of his colleague.

“Revenue in the city continues to rise but so do our expenses,” said Oddo. “This is a very difficult time because the Mayor has failed to address issues like pension funds and Medicaid fraud. Our struggle to protect core services like police, fire and sanitation continues because of the avoidance of the administration to focus on areas which would provide real financial relief.”

Members of the club engaged in dialogue with both Councilmen on a variety of issues in addition to the budget, with the Aqueduct racino presenting itself as a community priority. A major concern of residents is the burden the facility will place on neighborhood services.

“More than thirty thousand people playing slot machines on any given day definitely presents a problem with regard to key services, especially police,” said Ulrich, expressing concern that most of the officers from the already short-staffed 106th Precint will be concentrating on the region around the track in Ozone Park. “This leaves other communities like Howard Beach and Richmond Hill without enough police coverage.”

Ulrich has met with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to express these concerns. “The good news here is that there is a new class of police cadets slated to finish at the academy in December,” he said. “Hopefully this will help the situation.”

Residents are also concerned about traffic patterns, sanitation, noise and a host of other quality of life issues. Local architect John Calcagnile was among members with suggestions on how to move forward. “It seems logical,” stated Calcagnile, “that another public meeting with Resorts World is definitely in order. We need to have answers to questions that affect our day-to-day life, and we need those answers before opening day.”

The Ronald Regan Republican Club meets on the last Monday of every month at Lenny’s Clam Bar, 161-03 Crossbay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

by Patricia Adams


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