Despite the looming dark clouds above the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, a tough crowd braved the weather this morning to show support for New York City’s local community boards
The 59 community boards throughout New York City are in crisis. In Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year, community boards will have their budget's cut by $35,000.
Although a $35,000 cut does not sound like much, community boards already have low budgets of less than $200,000, meaning a budget cut of this magnitude would most likely lead to the dismissal of one of two or three staff members on each board. With less staff, community boards will inevitably be less effective in helping locals access higher democratic institutions, resolve neighborhood issues and ensure proper land use.
At this morning’s rally, the Borough Presidents of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx all voiced their appreciation for and support of local community boards. Manhattan BP Scott M. Stringer started off the protest by saying, “enough is enough.” Community boards have not received a budget increase in 19 years, he said.
Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. further argued that community boards are the “frontline of service and democracy.” In the current economic downturn, these boards are necessary to “keep our neighborhoods clean and safe,” said Diaz.
Also present at the rally were the District Managers of Bronx community boards 5 and 6,Xavier Rodriguez and Ivine Galarza respectively. Galarza voiced her concern that the board cuts would “devastate” her community, while Rodriguez explained that “community boards are trusted more than 311.” Both believe that community boards remain an essential part of New York City’s democracy.
Pictured: Members, district managers and supporters (including BP Ruben Diaz, Jr.) of the Bronx community boards.