Community Board Five Response to the Mayor’s 2016 Preliminary Budget
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
Thank you in advance for considering the advisory opinion of our community board.
Community Board Five is aware of the current fiscal challenges in our city. We are cognizant of revenues and expenses and are frequently in support of efforts to obtain increased funding to support those investments and expenses most vital to our City. To this end, we not only have supported efforts to increase Federal and New York State revenues dedicated to service delivery, but also believe that our City must be prepared to raise revenues itself to fund those most vital capital priorities and expenses that we identify.
Several months ago, our Board submitted capital and expense budget priorities to your office for consideration in the FY 2016 Preliminary Budget. While agency responses certainly are not fully on board with our desired responses, we are thankful for serious consideration of many of our requests. As the New York City Charter-created institution with among keenest insight into local conditions, we look forward to working with the new administration in fiscal prioritization.
As the budget process moves forward for FY 2016, we hope the City will recognize the long-term value in funding programs and projects within our heavily utilized and diverse district. Our ever-increasing popularity, urban density and symbolic value make our Union Square, Flatiron and Midtown district magnificent, yet plagues us with extreme above and below grade congestion, which creates health and safety problems for pedestrians, drivers and residents. At the same time, we must maintain programs and services most vital for our residents, particularly the elderly, homeless, and school-age children who work and spend time in our district. We believe that Manhattan Community District Five's success is critical to all New York City and we believe our budget priorities are suited to ensure that the needs of all within the community are addressed.
This response consists of two sections. First, we comment on the overall scope of the FY 2016 Preliminary Budget. Second, we respond to the manner in which our budget priorities have been considered by the agencies. The following reflects our views on the overall budget and budget items specifically pertaining to our district.
Section I: Overall Response to FY 2016 Preliminary Budget
CB5 believes the City of New York has insufficiently invested in the human capital development of our children. While we applaud such investments in university education the City has undertaken, we believe our City continues to underinvest in the physical capital that drives our public education system. Public education is the bedrock of human capital formation vital to our City's success and Manhattan CB5 wants to see a greater emphasis placed the development of real estate capacity that can serve the human capital formation needs of our district.
CB5 urges the City to increase funding for schools so that we can have more teachers to support smaller class sizes.
New York Public Library
The City of New York must increase support for libraries. The libraries in our district serve the diverse range of needs of residents, workers and others who come to our district to use the tremendous resources of the NYPL. Increased funding would expand hours and services offered.
Housing / Homelessness
In 2016, the number of homeless people sleeping each night in the New York City shelter system is around 60,000 —including 24,000 children. More individuals are homeless now in the City of New York than in any time since the Great Depression.
We understand that the rise in homelessness is not just a moral failing, but a financial failing as well—one that costs taxpayers over a $1 billion each year. While we are encouraged by efforts to increase funding for prevention and increasing exits from the shelter system, we believe the city must undertake a more robust street outreach program to address the needs of the rising street homeless population in our community district.
CB5 asks that additional funds be allocated to bolster traffic enforcement. Better enforcement means a safer journey for pedestrians, automobile users and bicyclists.
Section II: Response to Capital and Expense Budget Requests from Manhattan CB5
Each item below references the "Tracking Code" associated with each of our board's requests contained in the Fiscal Year 2016 Preliminary Budget Register.
305201401C—We strongly urge the City to commit funds for renovations of the 58th Street Library for ADA access and electrical upgrades.
305200906C—We strongly urge the City to commit funds for system upgrade to provide a boiler and HVAC replacement and system control at the Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library.
305201402C—We are thankful DOT has requested funding to make Herald Square Plaza and Greeley Square premier urban plazas.
305201403C—New York/New York III needs to be fully funded to ensure sufficient supportive housing to address our community's need. The city must increase resources if this is necessary to meet development goals.
305201008C—We thank DOT for reviewing a 23rd street Select Bus Service.
305201406C—We are encouraged by the city's commitment of support for ferry infrastructure.
305201009C—We are thankful DOT has requested additional support for the pedestrian plaza network and urge the city to increase support.
305201001E—For many years, community board budgets have remained flat and so, in real terms, have decreased, which damages the boards' ability to properly carry out its mandated duties.
305200904E—We are thankful DOT has begun new traffic planning operations to reduce congestion.
305200424E—The City must support robust 6-day library service and increase hours, diverse programming, world-class collections and sufficient staff.
305200402E—We do not believe DHS can properly prevent homeless and have sufficient street outreach with existing resources—funding should be increased as this is a major human services and quality of life issue.
305200909E—We are thankful DYCD has increased funding for outreach for runaway teenagers.
305200101E—We are thankful the Department of Cultural Affairs is maintaining funding levels for cultural organizations.
305201401E—We are thankful DYCD has increased funding for afterschool programming and child care.
305200901E—NYPD must receive increased funding for civilian hires to free up Police for traffic enforcement issues in our district.
305201302E—The city must increase funding for education and prevention efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and other STIs.
305200802E—With only two new landmark designations in Manhattan in 2014, LPC needs significantly more resources to study and designate worthy buildings and interiors.
305200906E—We are thankful that the Department of Parks and Recreation has recommended funding for hiring a second full-time exterminator.
Community Board Five appreciates the opportunity to comment on the FY 2016 Preliminary Budget. We look forward to seeing the Executive Budget and are hopeful that we will continue to see community board input incorporated into the final product.