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Queens groups seek to influence budget at boro hearing

Borough President Helen Marshall (c.) listens to testimony at a budget hearing last week. Photo by Karen Frantz
TimesLedger Newspapers

About 150 representatives from Queens community boards, nonprofits and civic groups made their pitch to Borough President Helen Marshall last week on how they think a portion of the city’s budget should be spent in the coming fiscal year.

And although the appeals were far-ranging in cost and advocating for a diverse array of projects, one theme that continued to surface was Hurricane Sandy.

“Damage within our community as a result of Sandy was extensive,” said Karyn Petersen, district manager of Community Board 10, which covers the hard-hit neighborhood of Howard Beach, in testimony delivered to Marshall and the Borough Board at Queens Borough Hall, at 120-55 Queens Blvd.

She asked for funds for inspecting flood-damaged roads, cleaning catch basins, repairing tree-damaged sidewalks and construction of additional bulkheads, among other projects and programs to help the community deal with the aftermath of the storm.

Cynthia Zalisky, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council, also invoked the hurricane in her appeal.

“QJCC prides itself on being able to respond to the needs of the community, no matter the circumstances. Hurricane Sandy proved the point,” she said, saying that although the organization’s facility was not directly affected by the storm it was able to help others in need in the aftermath.

“The borough president’s funding is our lifeline,” she continued. “Without these funds our agency would be forced to curtail valuable services to countless needy residents of Queens.”

Those delivering testimony Feb. 20 were hoping to sway Marshall on her budget priorities, which will be used to influence a final budget for fiscal year 2014.

They face a potentially smaller budget: Marshall said that $1.6 million of her discretionary funds were not continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s preliminary $70.1 billion budget.

“This funding supports dozens of senior programs across the borough,” Marshall said. “Without it, six senior centers will close and four adult daycare centers and transportation programs will cease.”

Some funding requests at the hearing included $915,000 from Queens College to upgrade its Behavior and Microscopy Core Facility and $850,000 to make improvements in its anthropology laboratory. The Queens Council on the Arts asked for $40,000 in funding for a new computer system to coincide with its planned move to Astoria. And MoMA PS1 asked for $5 million to acquire and renovate an adjacent building to become part of the museum’s campus.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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