By Patrick Rocchio
In what can best be described as another part of the annual “budget dance”, the City Council has responded to Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget with their own shopping lists.
Several Bronx council members said their recommendations are in the response that Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito crafted for her 51-member legislative body.
The Mayor’s executive budget was due out this week, with Council hearings and then a final budget to be passed in June, said east Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca. In previous years, Vacca and others termed this process the “budget dance.”
Cops and Ferries
Vacca’s recommendations making it into the 46-page document were calls for hiring 1,000 new police officers, expanding ferry service, and restoring funding for CUNY Prep, a Pelham Parkway-based program that helps young people get their GEDs and get ready for college.
Vacca wants the added cops – costing an estimated $100 million – above and beyond any regular attrition retirement. It will cost $100 million, he said.
“The 45th and 49th Precincts in my district have traditionally been shortchanged when it comes to manpower, we have not gotten our fair share,” he said.
The city is down about 6,000 police officers from the time of the September 11th attacks, and the city spent almost $650 million last year on NYPD overtime, he said.
With Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic initiative to curb pedestrian injuries and death, a new a net gain of 1000 new officers is needed to meet all the policing demand, he added.
The cut for CUNY Prep was the only real cut to the City University of New York system, said Vacca.
“CUNY Prep services at-risk high school students, and it has a very high percentage of success,” he said. “It is a program that should be replicated elsewhere, not eliminated.”
Ferry service to outer borough communities like Throggs Neck in Vacca’s district, he said would be a welcome way to shorten their commutes.
Councilman Ritchie Torres wants better funding for New York City Housing Authority projects.
Torres said NYCHA, home to eight percent of the city’s renters, currently needs $18 billion in capital improvements.
He is also calling for security cameras, intercoms, and better lighting for those projects most affected by crime, with a citywide pricetag of $520 million.
“There is no dedicated funding stream for security investments in public housing, it all depends on the vicissitudes of individual council members’ items,” he said. “I feel that there should be a coordinated central funding stream for security investments.”