Today’s news:

Budget deal spares services in boro

The City Council approved a $66 billion budget last week that averted proposed teacher layoffs, prevented the closure of four Queens firehouses and restored funding to libraries.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget included eliminating 4,000 teacher positions through attrition and cutting four firehouses from the borough, but the Council’s approved spending plan did not adopt those proposals.

Also not making it into the approved budget was a $130 million cut in funding to city libraries, which could have caused borough branches to be open for as little as three days a week.

“My most important job as a Council member is to go into City Hall and fight for my constituents,” Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said in a statement hailing the Council’s approval of the budget. “I am proud to report that despite the constricting fiscal climate, I fought to avoid the layoff of 4,100 teachers and saved 20 fire companies from shutting down. In addition, I pushed for an agreement to expedite the replacement of PCB-containing lighting fixtures, which will make all our schools and public buildings the most environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient in the country.”

His colleague, Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), also commended the spending plan.

“Northeast Queens is a winner in this budget,” Halloran said. “Fort Totten Pool has been saved, preserving public swimming options for northeast Queens. The jobs of teachers have been saved, helping our vulnerable school system. Our senior centers will continue to provide critical services to our senior citizens.”

Halloran said the highlight of the budget was saving Fire Engine Co. 306 from extermination.

“Most importantly, Engine 306 in Bayside has been preserved. Just three weeks ago, I held a rally attended by over 350 New Yorkers to protest this engine’s potential closure,” he said. “The city heard our voices, and our hard work paid off. Public safety can never be compromised. Thanks to this budget, Engine 306 will continue to serve and protect the families of northeast Queens.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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