When Acting Borough President Sharon Lee led a public hearing on the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2021 preliminary budget on Wednesday, Jan. 29, a stark difference in priorities emerged between the mayor and the community boards.
Senior services, one of several top funding priorities for the community boards, are slated to receive less funding in the mayor’s budget than in past years.
The hearing provided Lee a chance to hear from each community board about which projects in their district most need funding. But in addition to taking the pulse of all Queens’ district managers, Lee also spread news about what areas of the budget were expected to receive a shortfall.
The agency cuts that concerned the local leaders the most were those to the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), which is being funded $4.8 million less, and the Department for the Aging $34 million less, including a $33 million cut to direct senior services.
Of all the topics that district managers raised, the needs of the senior community came up more than any other besides infrastructure improvements which varied widely in scale and type.
“It is disturbing to hear about the loss of funding for senior programs and youth service programs,” said Community Board 3 Chairperson Giovanna Reid. “Our seniors and our young people are the most important populations throughout the city.”
In addition to Reid, representatives from community boards 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12 all emphasized their growing senior populations as a budget priority. CB10 District Manager Karyn Peterson mentioned that currently the district has only one center to serve their seniors and urged the support for more centers.
CB12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick said that in her district senior housing was in short supply.
“We have many, many seniors that are complaining about housing,” she said.
Next the Borough Board will use the district manager reports to create a document outlining its priorities, which it will send to the mayor, the city council and the city’s director of management and budget.