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Queens Borough Board OKs $359M for schools

Alexandra Rosa, the borough president’s...

By Betsy Scheinbart

The Queens Borough Board approved an expense priorities proposal submitted by the office of Borough President Claire Shulman last week, sending the document to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the full City Council.

Alexandra Rosa, the borough president’s chief of staff, presented the proposal, which is a composite of community board requests, views from February’s budget priorities hearing and other sources.

The borough board voiced its approval of the mayor’s plans to allocate $359 million for the construction of 11 new schools in Queens.

“As you know, most of our classrooms in Queens don’t have room for another desk, let alone a library, but we asking that the materials be there,” Shulman said of proposed establishment of libraries in all elementary school classrooms.

The Queens Borough Public Library will lose $7.8 million of its funding under the mayor’s proposed budget, but the borough wanted that amount restored.

The mayor’s preliminary budget for 2002 would reduce the funding for citywide youth services by $24.169 million, and the board is strongly opposed to a reduction of more than $1 million for the borough.

Giuliani’s proposal would eliminate $1.211 million for Queens cultural groups, but the borough board requested the restoration of that amount.

Queens has the most parkland of all five boroughs, but the mayor proposed cuts in several areas, all of which the board opposed. The borough said it wanted to hire more park employees, including four urban park rangers for Fort Totten in Bayside.

The board voiced its approval of the several new senior services that were added to the city’s budget last year. However, several board members said they were concerned that some of these programs, including Social Workers in Senior Centers, were not yet in place.

The four City University of New York schools in Queens — LaGuardia and Queensborough Community Colleges, Queens College and York College — all require additional funding, according to the board, which is requesting the city eliminate $18.6 million in reductions and allocate an additional $4.236 million to the CUNY system.

Queens legislators opposed the mayor’s proposed administrative fee on Business Improvement Districts and instead asked that funds be restored to the Commercial Revitalization Program.

The board is also requesting an additional $1.6 million for planning and development of Queens, nearly $2 million for sanitation and graffiti removal and $330,000 for transportation services.

Although crime decreased in Queens last year, it went up in the 113th Precinct in southeast Queens and several other areas experienced high levels of serious crime. The board requested that the borough get its fair share of police officers in 2002.

Since the Fire Department has warned that fire deaths are running at a high rate so far this year following a rise of four seconds in the average response time last year, the board requested $100,000 for smoke detectors.

As for the health of the borough, Queens asked for ongoing support for immunizations and asthma treatments as well as several program requests.

Requests for funding came from social service groups and domestic violence programs, but the borough president voiced her opposition to their methods of sheltering battered women.

“In my opinion, we ought to leave the women and children at home and put the guys [who abuse them] in jail,” Shulman said.

Immigrant services groups like the Chinese Immigrants Services, Romanian Information and Referral Center, and the Forest Hills Community House also had wish lists.

The mayor’s proposal also would reduce funding for the Queens district attorney’s office by $2.2 million, but the board would like increased funds for the DA’s programs.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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