For the first time in several years, the Fiscal Year 2012 Preliminary Budget did not propose cuts to the community boards' budgets. During his presentation of the February 2011 Financial Plan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stated twice his understanding that small agencies cannot absorb budget cuts and staff reductions.
Mayor Bloomberg first took this position when he released his Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Community Board 2 is grateful to Budget Director Mark Page, Deputy Budget Director Larian Angelo, Deputy Assistant Director Micky Josephs and community board unit head Randolph Panetta for their support. "The restoration of funds clearly illustrates this Administration's sensitivity to the funding constraints of small agencies like the community boards," Mr. Panetta wrote at the time.
The boards’ annual budgets for Fiscal Years 2009-2012 were cut $10,000 in June 2008. The City Council restored the reduction and similarly eliminated an additional $5,000 cut proposed in November 2008. However, both cuts remained on the books and the City Council again restored the funding last year. A 2.5 percent reduction was proposed mid-year, followed by a 5 percent cut for the year beginning July 1, 2010, bringing the cumulative reduction to more than many community boards' non-personnel budget. The mayor's Executive Budget also eliminated the reductions in the community boards’ Fiscal Year 2012 budgets.
Although Community Board 2 is grateful for the restoration, it believes a budget increase is warranted. The budgets of the 59 community boards have grown at a consistently slower rate than other city agencies. In fact, community board budgets have not grown in real terms for more than ten years. Over the 30 period 1980-2010, allocations for the community boards averaged 0.024 percent of the city budget. Even fully restored, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget was 25 percent lower than the historical average.