Budget Dance Swan Song – QNS.com

Budget Dance Swan Song

Madonna amazed us with the Vogue; Los Del Rios got us on our feet with the Macarena; and Patrick Swayze danced his way into our hearts while “having the time of his life,” but one dance all New Yorkers can be glad is finally nearing its end is the dreaded budget dance.
Throughout my six years as Chairman of the New York City Council’s Finance Committee, much has changed with respect to the City’s finances. From the post-9/11 fiscal crisis to the revenue boom we enjoy today, the Council’s fight to end the “Budget Dance” has been our greatest achievement.
The “Budget Dance,” is a five-month battle in which the Mayor cuts programs in exactly the same way he had cut them at the beginning of budget negotiations the year before, and then the Council restores those cuts in the same way that it had the year before. The Council has made great strides to end this acrimonious process and secure much-needed funding for worthy areas.
In last year’s budget, the Council was successful in base-lining funding for three significant programs which include five-day library service, the summer job program for youths, and additional trash collection in the outer-boroughs.
Perhaps the biggest victory of all was not the funding we were able to secure, but the successful effort we led to end the out-dated practice of cutting and restoring items that are instrumental to the needs of New Yorkers.
By working toward the eventual end of the budget dance, we were able to add three more critical programs to the list of base-lined areas in this year’s budget. Money for Cultural Institutions, Parks and Recreation, and the Administration for Children’s Services has now been added to the growing list of safely base-lined initiatives.
With the City’s financial landscape seeing significant signs of improvement, we have the unique opportunity to cut taxes while restoring funding to those same vital programs that were forced to endure a long winter.
Especially important to the borough of Queens was the inclusion in this year’s budget of some noteworthy proposals aimed at giving the people back some of their hard-earned money.
At the Council’s urging, the Mayor has included a plan to cut property taxes for homeowners by 5 percent. Coupled with the $400 property tax rebate, this will amount to a significant savings for Queens’ homeowners.
Additionally, this year’s budget proposal includes a plan to eliminate the sales tax on clothes valued at over $110, giving consumers a valuable break.
With numerous small business owners located in Queens County, the reduction in small business taxes offered in this year’s budget establishes yet another avenue for the City to give something back to those who need it the most.
From property tax cuts for homeowners, to savings for consumers and small businesses, to base-lined funding for pivotal areas, the Council has worked hard to give all New Yorkers a budget that no matter what their particular interests are, they can call their own.
Above all, the Council will continue its efforts to leave the dancing to those who did it best like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, making this year the swan song for the budget dance.
David Weprin is City Councilmember and Chair of the Finance Committee

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