BY JOE MARVILLI
Queens leaders and representatives reacted to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget announced earlier this week.
Although Queens is going to get plenty out of the $74 billion executive budget announced on May 8, the reaction was a mixed bag from the Borough’s representatives, due to some items left on the cutting room floor.
Although there had been talk about increasing the NYPD’s numbers and improving public safety, those factors were not reflected in the announced budget concerning Queens. Even though Borough President Melinda Katz and the Borough Board had asked for the construction of a 116th precinct, the creation of the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx was the only new one mentioned. The 116th precinct would have split the 105th in two, improving response times for the precinct that runs from Little Neck Bay to John F. Kennedy airport.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said she was concerned over the lack of public safety improvements in the budget when it came to the NYPD and emergency services.
“I am disappointed that the Council’s recommendations of additional funding for EMS and policing have been excluded from the Mayor’s budget,” she said. “With an average EMS response time for life threatening emergencies exceeding nine minutes, our officers are spread too thin. We cannot be cutting corners in regards to public safety when lives are on the line.”
Most of the public safety improvements came in the form of Vision Zero initiatives to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. The budget calls for $28.8 million in Dept. of Transportation initiatives, $13 million for NYPD traffic enforcement and $226 million in FY 2015 to resurface 1,000 lane miles.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) praised the budget for its improvements in education and for its efforts to improve the New York City Housing Authority. Seventy million dollars will be supplied to NYCHA to address the backlog of repairs and improve security. This funding is in addition to the $52.5 million in relief from the preliminary budget.
“I am pleased that the Mayor has prioritized measures for which I have been proud to advocate and champion, such as universal Pre-K, preparing students for STEM careers, fixing NYCHA and easing-up on unnecessary fines to small businesses,” she said.
The reduction in fines is a move away from the tactics of de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. The executive budget projects that the numbers will drop from $859 million in fines in 2012 to $789 million in fines in 2015.
“Under the previous administration, small businesses were charged thousands of dollars in fines, hindering their chance to grow and support communities in Queens and throughout the City,” Jack Friedman, executive director for the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said. “Mayor de Blasio’s reduction in fines will help these businesses invest back into their communities, increasing residents’ quality of life.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.