Council restorations preserve funding for firehouses, 6-day library service and ACS case workers
City Hall – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced an agreement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 budget. The agreement preserves essential core services, such as avoiding closure at 16 fire companies, maintaining city-wide, six-day library service and keeping current staff levels for child welfare workers at the Administration of Children’s Services (ACS). The restoration will also preserve 31 classrooms at ACS childcare centers.
“This agreement will balance the budget during one of the most tumultuous economic times in recent memory,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Early today, the Council voted in favor of a number of Home Rule messages, including a tax break for freelancers and small businesses and the preservation of the clothing and footwear tax exemption for items under $110. This has not been an easy budget, but tonight I am happy to announce that we have an agreement that will protect core services, including keeping fire houses open, preserving 6 six-day library service and limiting attrition of essential child welfare staff at the Administration for Children’s Services.”
“This budget takes into consideration the current economic climate, both locally and nationally,” said Finance Committee Chair David Weprin. “Overall, this budget shows once again that this Council, under the leadership of Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg, can come together for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”
MAINTAINING SIX DAY LIBRARY SERVICE
Six day library service, a long standing priority of Speaker Quinn and Council Members, will be maintained at libraries across the City. The $46.5 million dollar restoration will allow libraries to avoid layoffs and ensure that New Yorkers have access to critically important job training services during the economic downturn, in addition to preserving access to vital services such as literacy programs and increased access to technology.
“Restoring funding to our City’s public libraries proves Speaker Quinn’s deep and abiding commitment to all that libraries promote: employment, literacy, community activism and so much more,” said Libraries Subcommittee Chair Vincent Gentile. “Fully funded libraries help communities and residents weather economic hardship, and on behalf of the tens of thousands of supporters of public libraries, I want to thank the Speaker for helping to keep neighborhoods and households strong in the coming fiscal year.”
“Despite the hardships facing our city, I’m proud to say that we’ve reached a budget agreement that makes difficult but necessary decisions to keep our city afloat through this crisis,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations. “We’ve avoided devastating cuts to our cultural institutions, which are a major economic engine, generating jobs, tourism and tax revenue. We’ve maintained our commitment to cultural educational programs, like Urban Advantage and the Cultural After School Adventure Program. I’m also pleased to announce we’re making a major investment in our library system. Not only are we avoiding layoffs, but New Yorkers will still have access to their libraries six days a week. That means access to free services like technology and job training that are so important, now more than ever.”
PROTECTING ACS PERSONNEL
In an effort to limit maintain the current level of child protective personnel, the Council has restored $3 million in funding to the Administration for Children’s Services. This allocation will avoid the loss of half of the ACS child welfare personnel outlined in the Mayor’s executive budget for attrition. Additionally, the Council has restored roughly $8 million for 31 classrooms at ACS childcare centers, affecting over 600 children and avoiding another 93 possible layoffs within provider agencies.
“I am proud to have led the fight to protect our City’s children, communities and New Yorkers in need from bearing the greatest burden in this budget,” said General Welfare Committee Chair Bill de Blasio. “In all my years in the City Council we have never faced such a grave economic crisis. This recession has taken a very hard toll on New Yorkers with the least resources, and I am gratified that my colleagues and I successfully fought to restore cuts proposed by the Administration that could have put even more strain on New Yorkers. This budget saves day care classrooms from closure, funds vital child abuse prevention programs and keeps fire houses open and operating.”
KEEPING FIREHOUSES OPEN
The Council will also restore $17 million to FDNY, avoiding both a loss in head count and fire house closures. The Mayor’s FY10 budget proposed the closing of 16 fire companies in different neighborhoods around the city. Four fire companies were slated for closure in July – Ladder 53 in the Bronx, Engine 4 in Manhattan, Engine 161 on Staten Island, and Engine 271 in Brooklyn, followed by an additional 12 companies in January that have yet to be identified. In total, those closings would have lead to a head count reduction of over 400 fire personnel. In addition to avoiding the closures, the restoration will also make sure that the firehouse on Governor’s Island is open during events.
Minority Leader James Oddo said, “Keeping these 16 firehouses open is a great victory for the people of this City and particularly for the people of the South Beach, City Island, Bushwick, and Lower Manhattan communities who have lived under the specter of decreased fire protection for the past few uncertain months. The Council made saving our firehouses a priority during this budget cycle, and I am thankful for the doggedness and persistence of Speaker Quinn and Fire and Criminal Justice Chair Jimmy Vacca.”
“I’m gratified that we are able to announce an agreement to protect core city services, and keep New Yorkers healthy, said Majority Leader Joel Rivera. In these most difficult economic times we are able to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers in restoring budget cuts to the Administration for Children’s Services, and we’re also able keep people safe and firehouses open.”
“I want to congratulate Speaker Quinn, my fellow Members and Council staff members for their extraordinary work in negotiating this budget under the tough fiscal circumstances we face currently, as well as uncertainty that exists in Albany at this time,” said Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. “In the last few weeks, this Council has fought to preserve vital City services. There were tough choices to be made; however, we have successfully negotiated a budget that will protect working class New Yorkers.”
“I’m pleased that we were able to restore funding for critical youth programming in New York City,” said Assistant Majority Leader Lewis A. Fidler. “Clearly the City Council has made the youth of our city a real priority in this budget.”
“This is one of the toughest budget years the city has ever faced,” said Majority Whip Inez E. Dickens. “I am proud of the hard and difficult work that my colleagues did to protect core city services such as 6-day library service, maintaining 31 childcare classrooms, community colleges, and cultural institutions among many others that will keep our city moving forward through difficult economic times.”