2008-02-29 / Community

CB14 A 'Victim'Of City's Budget Cuts

By Nicholas Briano

Mayor Bloomberg's preliminary 2009 New York City budget plans for citywide, across-the-board cuts in spending. In Rockaway, one of the city agencies taking the hit will be Community Board 14, whose allowance is being cut by nearly five percent, according to reports released by the mayor's office.

The board, led by District Manager, Jonathan Gaska, faces a $10,000 reduction in its already-slim budget.

Community Board 14 is the most local form of government, often the liaison between residents and city agencies. The board is designed to represent the specific needs of the various communities that make up the Rockaways. It makes various requests to the city council and other administrative agencies, for capital improvements.

The 50 non-paid members do not have any official administrative rights, but represent the community's voice as a whole. A budget cut, according to Gaska, would have a deep impact on its operations.

"There are a lot of things that are affected with a budget cut," Gaska said. "I have a part-time employee in the office that we may not be able to keep, and we would have to cut various administrative expenses." The budget for services the board provides to Rockaway is already small and he doesn't see why it can't be cut from another agency that wouldn't feel the affect as much, he continued. "Every budget has cuts," Gaska said. "But we don't want to have community services cut, because they are all valuable."

Rockaway's City Council members feel the same way. Councilmember James Sanders, Jr., who wrote a letter to Bloomberg saying the city should cut the fat from the budget, not the meat, believes Community Board 14's resources are vital to the Rockaways.

Sanders would like to see other bloated agencies throughout the city that he describes as the "fat," take cuts that wouldn't plague them as badly as the cuts would to Community Board 14.

"The community boards are a critical player in our community," Sanders said. "We need to preserve them because they are the first branch of city government, and we look forward to a continued relationship with them without diminished resources."

Our other city councilmember, Joseph Addabbo, Jr., hopes to preserve Community Board 14's budget or, at least, reduce the amount Bloomberg cuts.

"We never want to make cuts in services," Addabbo said. "My intentions are to restore the entire amount, or we can get them to take a smaller cut."

Like Sanders, Addabbo says that the city should take the money from other areas and not from community boards, libraries or senior centers, all of which provide vital services for its respective residents.

"I am trying to have the cuts restored to less hurtful areas of the city," Addabbo said. "We have to weigh our options and work on something beneficial to everyone in the community."

Addabbo says he will continue to work on reducing cuts.

He added that Community Board 14 is just one of many agencies vital to Rockaway that must be saved from spending reductions.

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