Queens benefits from city budget

One week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn shook hands after agreeing on a $59 billion city budget, the specifics about how Queens is going to benefit from the budget are still emerging.
However, one important area where Queens residents will see a benefit is the influx of funding to cultural institutions allocated to meet the institutions’ new needs.
Six Queens institutions realized a total of $519,000 led by the Jamaica Arts and Learning Center receiving $125,000 and Queens Theatre in the Park $120,000 to go toward new initiatives and demands. In addition, Flushing Town Hall received $90,000; Queens Museum of Art received $74,000; P.S. 1/Contemporary Art Center $60,000 and the Queens Botanical Gardens $50,000.
City Councilmember Joseph Addabbo, who represents communities in south Queens, also believes that funding to help other cultural institutions - particularly Queens libraries - was one of the most important parts of the budget.
“I love the fact that we did great by the libraries opening them up six days per week,” Addabbo said.
In addition to cultural institutions, Queens residents will also benefit from a number of capital improvements.
City Councilmember James Gennaro, who represents areas of north and central Queens, mentioned $1.7 million he helped garner to bring state of the art digital mammography to Queens Hospital Center.
“For the second year in a row, I was able to secure a lot of money to make a major advancement at Queens Hospital Center,” said Gennaro, referring to $2.1 million the council secured last year to purchase a state-of-the-art PT scanner.
This year also marked the first time that legislators could remember when the council made public member items, often referred to as pork, funding for local organizations.
Council members handed out nearly 1,500 different member items totaling more than $36 million to various community organizations.
Addabbo disliked the pork characterization, but he believes the philosophy is a good one.
“I think it’s just the opportunity for elected officials to allocate money precisely where it’s needed,” he said. “Sometimes the elected official knows exactly where it’s needed in the district. I have seniors, families and children benefiting by the allocation of funding to my district.”
City Councilmember David Weprin, who is the Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee and near the top of the list of Queens politicians doling out discretionary items, said he was proud to help fund nearly $140,000 toward the Bayside Senior Center, Fresh Meadows Self Help facility and Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP).

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