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Borough Councilmen react to $73.5 billion budget

New City Council Fiscal Year 2016 budget funds cops, libraries

Bronx Times
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More police officers and six-day-a-week library service are are included in the new 2015-2016 city budget, pleasing two Bronx council members

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council came to an agreement to hire 1,297 new police officers as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 City Budget.

It is also restoring six-day-a-week library service, and greatly expanding the capital budget for all city libraries.

The budget went into effect on Wednesday, July 1, though it might take some time for the immediate impact to be felt throughout the borough on allocations like those for additional police officers, who have to be trained and then assigned.

Councilman James Vacca said he had been pressing for additional cops during the Fiscal Year 2015 budget negotiations, and that the allocation for the newly minted police officers should serve to bolster the NYPD, which he said has been depleted in terms of manpower since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“I think this is good news because I think we have to look at remanning our police department,” said Vacca. “We are down more than 6,000 cops since the World Trade Center attack in 2001…and this has been felt in every nook and cranny of the police department.”

Vacca said that the decline in staffing has been acutely felt in the areas like the narcotics unit of the Organized Crime Control Bureau, causing the removal of the narcotics modules, units that investigate drug complaints, from the 45th and the 49th precincts in his district.

“In the 49th Precinct and the 45th Precinct, we do not have narcotics modules, we share them with other precincts with higher crime,” said the councilman, who also indicated that both precincts have been historically understaffed.

He cited the large geographic area that the 45th Precinct serves as a reason to assign more police officers there.

Library subcommittee chairman Councilman Andy King confirmed that the city’s libraries received a $32 million increase in operating funds, and another $300 million for capital improvements over the next ten years.

The councilman said that he believes the additional funding will lead to six-day-a-week service universal service.

“Throughout the Bronx, we are constantly encouraging our residents to utilize libraries,” said King, who added that funding for capital projects like a new doors and staircase for the Wakefield branch in his district may now be available.

When asked about the allocation for new police officers, east Bronx community and police activist John Marano said that the deal between the administration and the council may be weakened by the addition of 415 ‘civilizati­ons’ that is also part of the budget.

So-called ‘civilianiz­ations’, which remove veteran cops who are eligible for retirement from administrative duties and place them back on the street, can lead to retirements among those eligible, he said. Marano is a retired police officer.

Other City Council, highlights of the $78.5 billion budget include:

• $2.8 million allocated to help veterans

• $12 million to start a jobs program operating year-round for 6,000 young adults

• $21 million to give about 50,000 students summer youtheEmployment jobs

• $2.4 million to expand physical education and youth sports programing

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Posted 12:00 am, July 4, 2015
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