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De Blasio’s budget: 9 ways it could affect Brooklyn

February 10, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor de Blasio’s budget would add money for additional ambulance tours and dispatchers. Shown - EMTs transporting a patient on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Photo by Samantha Samel
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Mayor Bill de Blasio presented his yearly preliminary budget on Monday, describing it as fiscally responsible yet progressive and honest.

Thanks to higher-than-projected revenues, the $77.7 billion budget would close a $1.8 billion deficit and increase spending for social services and education without raising taxes, cutting services or laying off workers.

Below are nine ways the preliminary budget’s effects could be felt in Brooklyn.

– More ambulance tours: With the closing of Long Island College Hospital (LICH), FDNY EMTs are spending additional time getting their patients to and into Brooklyn’s overcrowded emergency rooms. In the mayor’s budget, FDNY would get more than $11 million dollars for 45 new ambulance tours citywide, and $6.7 million to add 149 new EMS dispatchers.

– Schools: With more than 300,000 students, Brooklyn has more children in city schools than any other borough. De Blasio has slated $340 million for full-day universal pre-K for all 4-year-olds; $190 million to expand after-school programs for middle school students, and has included funding for 128 Community Schools, including the transformation of 94 renewal schools — 27 of them in Brooklyn.

– Brooklyn Public Library: This year’s preliminary budget allocates $86.3 million to BPL, $3 million less than the FY2015 budget.  (Last year, the three systems received a one-year increase that totaled $10 million and was not baselined.) The city’s three library systems are asking for a $55 million increase over last year’s budget, to return funding levels to what they were seven years ago. “While we are disappointed that the preliminary budget did not include more library funding, we look forward to working with the City Council and the Mayor and hope the final budget builds upon last year’s increased funding for libraries,” a spokesperson for all three city library systems said in a statement.

– Support for the homeless: According to the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, middle-class areas of Brooklyn like Bay Ridge and Borough Park are seeing double the number of homeless students since 2002. The budget would provide $28.4 million citywide for rental assistance; $8.6 million for prevention programs; $4.3 million for a counseling pilot program; and $0.9 million to expand drop-in centers.

– Help for small businesses and startups: Brooklyn is home to thousands of small businesses and has become a mecca for startups. The mayor said that tax reform would “streamline and modernize” the tax code for small businesses and manufacturers. The budget also includes $1.4 million a year to expand access to the city’s MWBE (Minority and Women Business Enterprise) program.

– Department of Buildings reforms: De Blasio’s budget includes $4.6 million to improve service at DOB, to speed up inspections and cut bureaucracy.

– Administration for Children’s Services: The agency has been criticized for letting children fall through the cracks, including a number of highly-publicized cases in Brooklyn. The budget would provide $11 million next year, and over $26 million total over the next three years, for reforms. It also adds $16.5 million over the next three years to expand community health center.

– Police: De Blasio wants to add an extra $10 million to the city’s police cadet program (for college students), and millions to replace old bulletproof vests. The budget does not include money to hire new police officers, however.

– Municipal ID cards: Hundreds of Brooklyn residents waited in line on the first day the city’s municipal ID card became available. De Blasio earmarked $5 million to shorten wait time.

Budget hearings in the council will begin in the next few weeks followed by a revised budget this spring. A final deal will be signed in June.  

Read more about the mayor’s preliminary budget.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. to correct library budget figures.

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