District managers of Queens community boards said a proposal last week to strip $7,000 from budgets that have already sustained $23,000 in cuts probably would force them to lay off personnel and could seriously hinder their daily operations.
“I don’t know where to cut $7,000,” said Marie Adam−Ovide, district manager of Community Board 8, which covers Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Jamaica Estates, Hillcrest, Flushing Heights and West Cunningham Park.
“I don’t want to get rid of anyone here or cut anyone’s hours,” Adam−Ovide added. “We wouldn’t have money for supplies. We’re already cut to the bone. Maybe Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg is waiting for us to cut the bone as well.”
Bloomberg proposed April 8 that community boards’ budgets be cut by another $7,000. The proposal becomes part of the executive budget Bloomberg submits to the City Council in June.
This latest round of cuts would leave boards with $30,000 less in 2010 than in 2009, Community Board 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio said. CB 6 covers Forest Hills and Rego Park. Bloomberg proposed the rest of the $23,000 in cuts to the city’s 59 community boards last fall and winter.
“We’ll be severely hindered from phone calls to postage,” Gulluscio said “It’s going to hurt us.”
Gulluscio and Adam−Ovide said layoffs or hourly reductions in the schedules of board staff would be inevitable if they have to carve another $7,000 from their budgets.
Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5, said the latest round of cuts would mean cutting the board’s graffiti removal program.
“We’ll have to get funding from community organizations,” he said. “It’s just a fact of life.”
Adam−Ovide said the cuts make her suspect Bloomberg wants to eliminate community boards.
“It appears they’re trying to get rid of community boards because there’s no way we can function with a budget of $169,000,” she said. “If the community boards weren’t there, there wouldn’t be anyone to stand in the way of development that may not be good for the community.”
Bloomberg’s office did not return a phone call for comment.
Gulluscio also said he has heard people speculate that the city may want to get rid of the boards and he added that the city charter would need to be changed to completely eliminate the boards.
“There has been talk that some people want to get rid of us, that a council member could take our budget to increase their budget and do what we do,” Gulluscio said. “If the community boards were gone, it would be a major problem for the community. Government is based on checks and balances, and we’re part of that system.”
Staff reporter Jeremy Walsh contributed to this article.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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