District managers from Community Boards 6 and 8 breathed sighs of relief after City Council members negotiated last Thursday to restore $20 million in funding to groups throughout the city, a move that means community boards will not have to slash 7 percent from their budgets.
Councilman David Weprin (D−Hollis) said he and other council members, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, struck a deal with the Bloomberg administration last week to restore the $20 million, which Weprin said was essential to prop up the community boards that help residents with everything from making sure their streets get salted during snowstorms or rallying for more funding to mitigate sewage problems.
“We were so happy to hear that,” said Marie Adam−Ovide, district manager for Community Board 8, which covers Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Holliswood, and Hillcrest. “Everything will be fine now. We get to keep all our staff and nobody has to go to the unemployment line.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had said this fall that community boards, like agencies throughout the city, would need to make the 7 percent cuts. Community board leaders and members said the cuts could have decimated the organizations and forced managers to lay off personnel.
Bloomberg said in November that community boards would need to cut 5 percent from their budgets and asked them to dock another 2 percent a couple weeks ago.
Council members James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) and Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills), also voted to restore the cut.
Though Community Board 6 only has three full−time employees and one part−time employee working for it, District Manager Frank Gulluscio said he still would have had to look into laying off employees in order to manage the 7 percent cuts. Community Board 6 covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.
“We’re mandated by the state to take care of all the quality−of−life issues in a community, and without personnel we can’t do that,” Gulluscio said.
Managers said they were trying to conserve in order to prepare for possible future cuts, and Adam−Ovide said in better financial times her board set aside such supplies as stamps. Still, they were running low on supplies and Adam−Ovide said the cuts put district managers in the precarious position of trying to keep personnel and still be able to afford to basic functions, like sending out newsletters to community members.
“With 7 percent in cuts, we would have to lower our budget to $167,777, and that means we wouldn’t have any money for supplies,” Adam−Ovide said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.
©2009 Community News Group
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