NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio should have read “NYC Part Of Traffic Safety Pilot Program” (Lynn Edmonds – Sept. 17) concerning receipt of yet another Federal Department of Transportation grant – this time for $20 million before he complains that the federal government is shortchanging the Big Apple when it comes to providing transportation funding. His position is flawed when you look at the facts.
For example, Federal support for transportation has remained consistent and growing. It has actually increased over past decades. When a crises occurred, be it 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy, Washington was there for us. Additional billions in federal assistance above and beyond yearly formula allocations were provided. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided billions more. Most federal transportation grants require a 20 percent hard cash local share. In many cases, Uncle Sam accepted toll credits instead of hard cash for the local share. This saved the MTA one billion dollars in the previous 2010 – 2014 Five Year Capital Program.
The real question Mayor de Blasio and others miss is how NYC managed the billions of discretionary dollars received in post 9/11 aid after 2001; American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, along with Sandy relief and recovery after 2012. All of these billions were above and beyond the billions in regular formula assistance from Washington every year. The same also applies to billions in yearly assistance from Albany, along with billions in locally generated tax revenues.
Does NYC submit grant applications on time for both formula and discretionary competitive funding opportunities? Are current federal and state funded programs being completed on time and within budget? Are all federal funded grant positions filled as they are needed for administrative purposes? Are funds being expended on a timely basis? Are there any unspent funds carried over year after year? Is there waste, fraud or abuse? Are all change orders for construction projects fair, reasonable and documented?
Have NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli conducted audits of each respective municipal agency to see if NYC is doing a good job managing current federal and state aid programs? Has City Council Speaker Mellisa Mark-Viverto with her trusted political allies – NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson Julissa Ferreras and NYC Council Transportation Committee Chairperson Ydanis Rodriguez – conducted public hearings to do the same? What oversight has the NYC Office of Management and Budget and the NYC Independent Budget Office provided? Have either conducted any audits to see how municipal agencies are managing their respective current state and federal aid programs?
The New York City Departments of Transportation along with the MTA have to submit Quarterly milestone and financial progress reports to their respective federal agency counterparts who review and approve funding from Washington. They document the progress being made by the recipient of federal funding. The reports might make interesting reading for those who want to find out how both NYC and the MTA are spending the billions from Washington.
Perhaps government at all levels need to do a better job with the billions of dollars in taxpayer generated revenues already available, rather than pick the pockets of taxpayers for even more!