Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Community Board Director Visits Community Board 10 by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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Community Board 10 Second Vice President Robert Ruffin, left, joins Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik and CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton. Photo by Stepehn Geffon

Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, the newly appointed director of community boards, has been making the rounds of each — most recently at the CB 10 meeting last week in South Ozone Park — to discuss ways he can work with the panels to develop City Charter changes that would enhance their roles.

“Our goals in the upcoming charter revision is to strengthen the role of community boards in this community and throughout Queens,” Grodenchik told CB 10 members. “Please feel free to communicate to me on any issue that you want, I will be very happy to share your thoughts with the borough president.”

As part of the legislation extending term limits, Mayor Mike Bloomberg agreed to appoint a charter revision commission, which he has not done yet.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall stated that she will ask the charter review commission to set a new funding formula that gives borough presidents and community boards a guaranteed percentage of the city budget.

“This will remove us from the political see-saw of the budget process and ensure an independent voice for each borough and local community district,” Marshall said.

Community boards are also facing the possibility of what they consider draconian cuts to their budgets as the city readies its next spending plan. The proposed cut for boards is 2.5 percent this current fiscal year and a proposed 5 percent for the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to Marshall’s spokesman Dan Andrews. Each community board has had a budget of about $200,000 to cover staff, rent and office expenses.

However, according to CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton, in November 2009, all of the city’s Community Boards had their FY2010 budgets cut by 4 percent. Braton’s FY2011 figures also differed.

“As of July 1, 2010 when FY2011 begins, we will be cut another 8 percent,” Braton said. “The Mayor's Preliminary Budget published at the end of January reflects the November PEG cuts.”

Braton said there is great concern that the ability of community boards to function will be impeded if planned cuts are actually implemented in the final budget when it comes out in June.

“We may not even be here to provide service if we can’t pay for our office and have our staff,” she added. “The proposed cuts are significant.”