Community Board Five Response to the Preliminary Budget
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 NYC, 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 2015 Preliminary Budget. While agency responses certainly are not fully on board with our desired responses, we are encouraged at the shift in fiscal prioritization when comparing the Preliminary 2015 budget with the Preliminary 2014 budget. 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 2015, 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 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 2015 Preliminary Budget. Second, we respond to the manner in which our budget priorities have been considered by the agencies. On March 11, 2013, CB5 held a public hearing on the FY 2015 proposed budget. The following reflects our views on the overall budget and budget items specifically pertaining to our district.
Section I: Overall Response to FY 2015 Preliminary Budget
We put forth multiple options that should be under consideration for increasing revenue to fund those initiatives most crucial to the success of our district and city.
CB5 believes the City of New York has insufficiently invested in the human capital development of our children. We look forward to the shift in tone with the new administration. 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.
In 2013, the number of homeless people sleeping each night in the New York City shelter system surpassed 50,000—including 21,000 children and has remained at elevated levels over the past year. 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 on the part of the City of New York, but a financial failing as well—one that costs taxpayers $819.3 million each year ($16,000+ per individual per year). By using "emergency shelters" instead of investing in affordable and supportive housing, this City has made both unethical as well as poor fiscal choices. We hope to see a 180 degree reversal of this approach in this new administration's policies through stronger investment in affordable and supportive housing and use of existing housing programs to give our City's homeless the boot straps from which they can pull.
CB5 urges the City to increase funding for schools so that we can have more teachers to support smaller class sizes.
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 2015 Preliminary Budget Register.
Community Board Five appreciates the opportunity to comment on the FY 2015 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.