Marshall eyes new ways to offset city budget cuts

By Alex Davidson

Borough President Helen Marshall and members of her borough board suggested a host of alternative revenue sources Monday night to increase the funds flowing into Queens and offset the mayor’s proposed budget cuts.

Three of the top solutions discussed at the annual hearing at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens included delaying the end of a temporary citywide high-income tax enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, eliminating the property tax exemption for Madison Square Garden and initiating a tax on fuel sold to airline operators.

“We are open to suggestions,” Marshall said. “Our door is always open.”

Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff for the borough president, detailed how Marshall’s office is trying to combat proposed cuts to Queens’ budget and simultaneously raise revenues. She outlined the taxes and other initiatives, such as the suggestion to institute a property tax for now-exempt Madison Square Garden, which could instantly put an additional $37 million in the city’s coffers.

Rosa said the borough president’s office has been hampered in its efforts to combat losses in city funds and seek out new resources for capital because 25 percent of Marshall’s staff has been cut due to budgetary constraints put in place during the past three years.

Marshall’s borough board, consisting of city council members and chairmen from all 14 of the Queens’ community boards, regularly meets to discuss the mayor’s proposed budget cuts and also prioritize capital and expense projects for the upcoming fiscal year.

Council members Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills), Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), David Weprin (D-Hollis), John Liu (D-Flushing) and Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) joined Marshall and Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz at the meeting.

Among the projects members said they would like to see instituted were the restoration of weekly recycling at a cost of $13.2 million and the reintroduction of the Peter Vallone scholarship, which provides borough students with supplementary education funds.

The board also called on the mayor to put back money for the summer youth jobs program in Queens, which was knocked out of the budget last year, and to provide money to split the 105th Precinct in Queens Village into two separate units.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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