2014 City Budget Deal Gets Mostly Warm Reception From Queens’ Pols

2014 City Budget Deal Gets Mostly Warm Reception From Queens’ Pols

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the newly unveiled budget would leave the city on a strong financial foundation for the next administration. Patricia Adams/The Forum Newsgroup

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the newly unveiled budget would leave the city on a strong financial foundation for the next administration. Patricia Adams/The Forum Newsgroup

Although the final details of the city’s 2014 budget plan are still being hammered out by administration officials and council members alike, Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled an agreement this past Sunday which maintained funding for many crucial city services from housing and after-school programs to libraries and senior centers.

“It’s important for people to know that the city is passing an on-time, balanced budget with no increase in taxes which preserves essential services such as maintaining five-day per week library service, no teacher layoffs and no reductions to essential city services such as fire, police or sanitation,” said Council man Eric Ulrich.

Ulrich also expressed relief that the city was able to balance the needs of everyday New Yorkers while also making certain that necessary Hurricane Sandy-related infrastructure improvements and capital projects were not neglected.

The budget deal includes $250 million to assist with future storm-related upgrades to city owned and operated buildings as well as providing $58 million for public housing to cover a shortfall in federal funds related to the sequestration cuts.

Other key parts of the budget included the restoration of $143.6 million for Early Childhood Education and After School Programs, which includes funding for 66 city-funded beacon programs as well as $106 million to help keep the city’s three library systems properly funded.

Further, in a statement, the administration also touted the fact that intense negotiations helped to deliver the city’s eighth consecutive, on-time budget responsible for preventing the layoff of 325 city housing employees as well as the closure of more than 60 senior centers and community facilities.

On Sunday, Quinn characterized the city’s fiscal outlook as being better than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis. She said the budget allows the city’s public libraries to maintain their hours of operation, restores cuts to child care and after-school services, and ensures that senior and community centers in public housing facilities stay open.

“This budget process should serve as an example to our colleagues in government throughout the country, that if you focus on delivering and check the grandstanding at the door, you can accomplish a great deal – and that’s what this is all about,” said Quinn in a council statement.

Frank Gulluscio, district manager of CB 6, was pleased that most vital services in the borough were spared the budget ax.

“We’re ecstatic because seniors were largely unaffected as well as libraries. We always worry every year about senior centers and libraries.”

In an emailed statement, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said “Despite the many obstacles and challenges that were presented in this year’s Executive proposal, it gives me great pleasure to pass a budget that saves many of the City’s vital services from firehouses and libraries to child care and after school programs that were slated to close.”

Koslowitz called the budget a victory for not only working class families that rely on various city programs but also for the countless numbers of children that benefit from the “safe, inclusive and supportive culture of learning and cognitive development.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley also expressed relief that vital service cuts were avoided. “The number one risk in the budget process was the closure of fire companies and those were avoided,” she said. But, not all city politicians were satisfied with the resulting budget.

Bill De Blasio, the city’s public advocate and a candidate for mayor, issued a statement that was less than complimentary regarding the negotiated budget deal.

“This budget was an opportunity to reverse the loss of 30,000 after-school seats cut over the past several years,” De Blasio said. “It should have asked the wealthiest New Yorkers to contribute more, so we could build a real foundation for our education system. Instead, it affirmed a status quo that continues to leave working families behind.”

And locally, Alex Blenkinsopp, a Woodhaven resident and member of CB 9, also had reservations about the budget.

Lamenting the recent loss of the Forest Park Senior Center, Blenkinsopp gave the budget a lukewarm reception.

“Every year we go without losing a firehouse or library is a lucky year,” he said. “While there don’t appear to be any major changes, there also seems that there’s little progress.”

Blenkinsopp added, “It will be very interesting to see how the next mayor chooses to treat Queens and the services which are most important to the people of Woodhaven.”

The FY 2014 budget is due to take effect on July 1 and the council is expected to vote on the budget later this week.

By Alan Krawitz


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