Today’s news:

Restore Parks Department funding

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released the executive budget for fiscal year 2010. Unfortunately, funding for the city Parks Department has reached a five−year low, with the agency receiving only $256 million. This year’s and last year’s budget cuts to the agency total 9 percent. Consecutive cuts like this have not been seen since 1991−92.

Here are the numbers:

• The Parks Department budget is down $13 million since last year and $24 million since 2008.

• The seasonal staffing program, which provides extra maintenance staff during the busy summer months, has been cut by $10 million and will be further reduced by $5.6 million. Hopefully, lifeguard positions will not be affected by the budget cuts.

• Tree pruning has been reduced by a total of $3.5 million — $1 million beyond the preliminary budget — while New Yorkers and the city have planted more than 200,000 new trees in the last two years.

• A total of 109 staff positions will not be filled.

Unfortunately, the projections for next year are looking even worse. I call on the mayor to restore the cuts he has made to the Parks Department in the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2010.

Frank Gulluscio

Howard Beach

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