Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Queens Getting Shortchanged in Funding, Borough Officials Sayby Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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Queens is the second-most populous borough in the city.

But you wouldn't know that by looking at its share of the city's budget pie, borough officials said Tuesday.

Queens received $2.12 per capita to run the borough president's office last year. Compare that with the Bronx, which received $4.09 or Staten Island, with a whopping $8.73.

Queens has 2.2 million residents, while the Bronx has 1.3 million and Staten Island has 443,728. Even Manhattan and Brooklyn top Queens with per capita funding rates of $2.88 and $2.22 for the beep's office.

"We're willing to do our fair share, but we need to be at the same starting line," said Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

Budget negotiations kick into high gear this week as City Hall has three weeks left to hash out a spending plan for fiscal year 2011.

Marshall and her aides are seizing the moment and bringing their plea for equity directly to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Queens delegation of the Council and Mayor Bloomberg's staffers.

Armed with handouts, complete with graphs and pie charts, Marshall is meeting with key players this week to show how Queens keeps getting shortchanged. That funding disparity makes the proposed $1 million budget cut to the borough president's office even tougher to stomach.

"This inequity means that Queens residents do not have equal access to services of this office compared with residents in other boroughs," Rosa said.

Queens is especially gypped when it comes to funding for arts programs and museums.

Last year, Manhattan got about $15.92 per resident for cultural organizations, followed by the Bronx with $7.35 and Staten Island with $5.82. Queens, home to the Hall of Science, Queens Zoo, Botanical Garden and other popular sites, received just $1.76 per capita.

Marshall said she understands the need to balance the books. "The budget, however, must be fair to all boroughs," she said.