Borough President Helen Marshall Outlines Budget Priorities
Helen Marshall’s proposed budget priority list was released recently and sent to Mayor Bloomberg with special attention paid to several key Rockaway proposals including the permanent funding of Engine 328 in Far Rockaway which the mayor has threatened to close several times over recent years.
“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” said the Borough President.
The package was voted on by the Borough Board, which is made up of the Borough President, the districts’ council members and the chairs of each of the borough’s 14 community boards. Members of the City Council abstained from voting, which took place at Queens Borough Hall, because they will vote on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $68.7 billion spending plan later this year. Councilman Danny Dromm, however, noted, “I saw lots of things I like,” in the 273- page document, prepared by Marshall’s staff.
Highlights of Marshall’s budget is to continue Department of Health and Health and Hospitals Corporation funding of $5 million for 30 citywide, HHCoperated, child health clinics, including those in Jamaica, Corona and Far Rockaway; $2.5 million for an Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative; $2 million for rapid HIV testing; $2 million for geriatric mental health services; and $1.25 million for increasing autism awareness.
She is also asking for the Administration for Children’s Services to restore $13.58 million for child care vouchers and $6.4 million for six child care centers, including the Bethel Mission in Far Rockaway.
Marhsall is also asking Bloomberg to restore the full community board budget to its former allotment of $12,000 and for the city to prevent the closure of up to four firehouses in Queens, one of which is Engine 328 in Far Rockaway.
Engine 328, located at 16-15 Central Avenue, shares “The Big House” with Engine 264 and Ladder 134. Last year Bloomberg threatened to close 20 firehouses but rescinded on the proposal by the time the budget was approved. This year he is once again requesting the closure of 20 firehouses, many the same from last year’s list. It remains to be seen if Marhsall can help prevent the closings.
The community boards are another area that Bloomberg has targeted this fiscal year.
This time around, he is proposing a six percent cut to all community board budgets, which by most local accounts will hinder basic operations of the boards and eliminate crucial office staff who often respond to many of the community’s basic inquires.
In previous cases the community boards have been bailed out by Marshall.