The fight continues on the steps of City Hall to save community boards across the City, which face devastating cuts.
On Tuesday, June 9, representatives of the city’s 59 community boards met outside City Hall in Manhattan with the support of the borough presidents from Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as New York City Comptroller Williams Thompson.
“Community boards serve as a crucial watchdog to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe, a role that will be even more important in a down economy,” said Ruben Diaz, Jr. “These proposed cuts are shortsighted, and have the potential to lower the quality of life in neighborhoods not just in the Bronx, but all over the city. Community boards represent the voice of the people, and their budgets must be preserved.”
Under the proposed cuts of approximately 11%, the city’s budget would provide only $169,709 to each community board for the fiscal year 2010, over $20,000 less than prior years.
According to John Fratta, district manager of Community Board 11, community boards have not seen an increase in their budgets since 1987 and are already operating on minimal funds for the service they provide.
“When times were good all other city agencies received an increase in budget except community boards, so how can we be expected to take the same cuts,” said Fratta. “If we take the cut I would be forced to lose an employee and would have to stay in the office with one other employee, which is ridiculous.”
Fratta dismissed the idea of the Mayor’s new initiative to recruit volunteers to service the communities. “Mr. Mayor, we have 50 volunteers in each one of the 59 community boards. Those are all your volunteers, and they are not costing you a single dime.”
Established in 1975, community boards advise the mayor and City Council on land-use, zoning and money matters.
Last year the City Council restored a round of cuts that threatened community boards.
“I am committed to a full restoration of funds for the community boards. They run on a skeleton staff already and these cuts will go to the core of the board’s very operation,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “I know that all of the borough’s council members are united in seeking a full restoration and in the next week or two we are hoping that will be the outcome.”