2010-02-12 / Top Stories

CB 14 Faces Mayor’s Budget Ax

Constituent Services In Danger
By Howard Schwach

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska has nothing against trees, but he would rather the community have a sounding board than see more trees planted in Rockaway.

“The city is spending more than $1,000 a tree as part of the Million Tree Program,” Gaska said. “If they plant 28 trees in each Queens community board, that’s $28,000. Community Board 14 has gone on record saying we can do without the 28 trees.”

The $28,000 figure has become important to Gaska, because that’s the amount of money that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has slashed from each of the city’s community boards in an effort to balance his budget.

“In 1995 we had a budget of $159,000 a year,” the veteran district manager told The Wave this week. “Bloomberg wants to cut us to $160,000 from last year’s $198,000. How much have costs gone up in the last 15 years?”

Gaska says that the cuts will destroy the agency’s core business – dealing with the problems that locals have with the city bureaucracy.

“We don’t mind sacrificing a little,” Gaska says. “But we will have to cut a position, and that means I’ll have to be here in the office answering the telephone rather than being out in the field, meeting with constituents and dealing with their problems. It means fewer community meetings that I can attend, and fewer services for residents.”

Gaska argues that the cost of all of the things that keep his office available and running have gone up over the past fifteen years, including rent, copier rental, paper, stamps, and other supplies.

“Everything goes up, but we haven’t received a raise in more than a decade,” he said. “The cuts will destroy the entire concept of what a community board should be.”

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