Volume 81, Number 7 | July 14 - 20, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Talking point

Council budget action averts disastrous cuts in key areas

BY MARGARET S. CHIN

On June 29, my colleagues in the City Council and I passed the city budget for the 2012 fiscal year. I want to take this opportunity to convey to my constituents in Greenwich Village, Soho and the rest of District 1, the outcome of this year’s budget negotiations at a city level, and what it means for our local schools, community organizations, senior centers and essential services.

The mayor’s executive budget proposed laying off 4,000 teachers, closing 20 firehouses across our city (including Ladder 8 and Engine 4 in District 1), eliminating 16,500 childcare slots, and making a drastic cut to public libraries that would limit some branches to three days a week.  

Under the leadership of Speaker Christine Quinn and Finance Chairperson Domenic Recchia, the Council worked with the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers to avoid teacher layoffs — although the 2,600 teachers the city is expected to lose through attrition will not be replaced, and class size is likely to increase at many public schools. The Council successfully avoided cuts to firehouses by restoring $40 million that will keep New York Bravest’s operating and response time down — and most important, our two local firehouses open.

The combined restorations of the Council and the administration averted the closure of 197 childcare classrooms while continuing funding for thousands of Priority 5 and 6 vouchers, although at a lower level. Funding for public libraries was restored to keep branches operating five days per week, and afterschool programs that were slated for closure — including I.S. 289 in Battery Park City — have been restored with minor cuts to their operating funding.

The Council also restored funding for important programs, including most funding for the city’s cultural programs, H.I.V./AIDS education and prevention initiatives among communities of color and women, autism awareness initiatives, Respect-for-All and Cultural After-School Adventure programs in our schools, and H.P.D.’s Housing Preservation Initiative, to highlight a few. During the negotiations, several programs were successfully baselined, meaning next year’s funding for these programs will not be the target of Bloomberg’s budget ax. Sexual Assault Response Teams, district attorneys, senior centers and CUNY will all have portions of their budgets baselined.

In addition to restorations at the city level, through my discretionary funding for the 2012 fiscal year, our local schools and organizations will be able to realize many important and exciting programs in the coming year. I was happily able to allocate $700,000 in capital funding to our public schools for technology updates, renovations and improvements. I also want to thank the Council as a whole for earmarking $1.2 million for the Urban Assembly Harbor School in Lower Manhattan. In conjunction with Speaker Quinn, $950,000 was allocated to local parks for renovations and to create more playground space for our children, including in DeSalvio Playground in Little Italy.

I am also proud to announce funding for programs for our local organizations that will benefit residents and young people in Soho and Greenwich Village. Cultural programs offered through the Children’s Museum of the Arts will ensure that free, family-focused, art programs are available this summer. Funding for Friends of LaGuardia Place will support a group of dedicated individuals committed to the beautification and maintenance of LaGuardia Place. In addition, funding for the Washington Square Association Music Fund will help continue free concerts in Washington Square Park. The Caring Kids Program at Animal Haven on Lafayette St. introduces children and teens to basic animal care and helps ensure that responsible pet ownership is a priority in our city.

Several keystone programs in our communities received discretionary funding from my office this year, including Class Size Matters, an organization that seeks to reduce class size and increase parental involvement in our public schools; Greenwich Village Youth Council, which supports out-of-school-time programs; Enact, Inc., which brings drama workshops and performances to our public schools; the Anne Frank Center, which provides education programs; and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which provides supportive services afterschool to L.G.B.T.Q. youth, to name a few.

I also funded several programs that serve senior populations in the Village and Soho, including The Caring Community on Carmine St., Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) and Services and Advocacy for G.L.B.T. Elders (SAGE). A full list of my FY ’12 discretionary allocation is available on the Council’s Web site, under “Schedule C” of the city budget.

As a member of the Council’s Manhattan delegation, and through my involvement as an executive member of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, as well as a member of the Women’s Caucus, I was able to lend my support and advocate for funding for numerous other programs that I urge you to explore online.

As your councilmember I will continue to fight for resources for all the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan. Please reach out to our office at any time to tell us about the programs and organizations that matter most to you.

Chin is councilmember for the First District.

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