Community Board 11 to mayor: Show us the $!

Community Board 11 hopes the City Council will help boost their budget —and staff pay —this year.
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

The leadership at Community Board 11 — after years of combating proposed budget cuts by Mayor Bloomberg — is optimistic that with a new Mayor will come more city funding.

Mayor DeBlasio’s $74 billion preliminary budget for the 2015 fiscal year holds each of NYC’s 59 Community Board budgets steady, at $206,895, for the first time in recent memory.

And CB11, which covers Van Nest, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway and Allerton, hopes that the City Council will help them push that number to their goal of $350,000 by the time the city budget is finalized this summer.

City Council love

“Every year they’ve been cutting us, but since we didn’t get cut this year, you’d think our friends at the City Council would increase our budget,” said CB11 Chairman Tony Vitaliano.

Bloomberg had historically hit community board funding hard in his preliminary budget, only to have the City Council get the money back during the ensuing hearing process.

With Council input and necessary approval, the mayor makes his “Executive Budget” by May and the finalized version by July 1.

Raises for CB workers

Additional city funding for community boards would go to paying existing staffers a bit more, and maybe even to hiring a full-time planner for the office, said Jeremy Warneke, Board 11’s district manager.

Some staffers in his office earn as little as $23,000 a year, he said.

Each of the city’s community boards is mostly made up of local volunteers, but has an in-office staff that helps locals tackle quality of life concerns and organize local reaction to city land-use changes.

A bit of extra cash would also go toward new computers and equipment, which might become crucial if a bill from Councilman Jimmy Vacca requiring boards to live webcast their meetings is signed into law.

More $$$ takeaways

Besides not cutting CB funding, Mayor Bill’s first crack at a budget also found room for a renovated playground in Van Nest, a longtime goal for locals who have pushed for better play facilities for kids.

The new park will include swings, mock “ticket booths” that double as playhouses, and colored concrete train tracks, among other amenities.

“We are so excited for all of these years of work to finally pay off,” said Burnadette Ferrara of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, which has spearheaded the project since its creation in 2009.

Another main priority for CB11 is the long-planned reconstruction of Pelham Parkway North. The city finished its $30 million renovation of Pelham Parkway South in 2013. Warneke said construction on the northern part of the strip could start this year.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail her at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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