Monday, March 07, 2005

Testimony of J. Reyes-Montblanc Chair CB9M Before The Honorable Bill Perkins, Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee

Testimony of

Hon. J. Reyes-Montblanc
Community Board 9 Manhattan


The Honorable Bill Perkins,
Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee

March 7, 2005

Good Afternoon:

The issue, as Community Board No. 9 M understands it, that is before us today, is the funding for Community Boards in FY 06 and whether it is adequate.

It is a given that Board 9’s position is that we need more money, for the following reasons:

Community Board members are unique in that as unpaid volunteers they represent a cross section of each District, they are called upon to make decisions without the Technical Assistance often needed to negotiate the quagmire of this City’s Bureaucratic process. Board 9M’s upcoming decisions as it relates to Columbia’s expansion, finds itself in a not unique situation as there are several other Boards similarly burdened with City Charter mandated functions and not enough funds to properly carry them out. All Community Boards well could and should receive financial help for the Expertise needed to make crucial District’s decisions.

Community Boards are also mandated by the City Charter to work with City Agencies to in effect provide a smooth and efficient flow of services. I am especially proud of the fact that over the past 3 years Community Board 9 Manhattan has worked with yourself, Councilman Jackson, Borough President Fields, Comptroller Thompson, D.E.P., Pest Control, HPD, Sanitation, City Parks, State Parks, NYCHA, and the NYPD to deal with residents property damaged by flooding, facilitate an area wide rat abatement, addressed complaints from tenants in two City developments, reduced problems in Morningside Park and increase Police coverage during major events such as Harlem Week. Working with other Community Boards we have established a criteria for Bridges Lead Paint Removal.

The City of New York after Debt service should on average expend approximately $30,000.00 per person per anum in services. Using Community Board 9 Manhattan’s 117,000 residents (more than Savannah, Georgia) with a recommended Total Budget of $180,000+ has an average of 1.30 per person per anum to monitor whether this $30,000 per person is delivered. We must investigate issues, monitor complaints and unlike the 311 system we don’t stop recording them in after the first one. Yet Boards still cannot track the progress of complaints filed with 311 without staff follow-up.

Record keeping then becomes a primary factor. Now in this time of Term Limits it is only the Community Boards who will have the long-term institutional memory of issues, concerns and city promises made, kept, not kept or broken the past 8 years.

We need financial assistance to maintain a permanent Data Base of the history of Community and Board records. Disposing of records after seven years or storing them at DORIS where they are some times lost is not an option. For new Council people, Borough and Citywide elected officials we are where they will have to come for that History.

Finally, Community Board 9 Manhattan would like it noted that in the past ten years the City’s Budget has grown approximately 30% while Community Boards based on FY 06 would have increased around 20%. If our budget was increased by 30% of the FY 1995 Budget it would now be $195,000.

Those are our needs, funds for or Technical Expertise, Assistance with Computer upgrades so that we can maintain the Institutional Memory and History of our Communities. Coordination with the City especially 311 to track our complaint resolution. And finally an increase at least commensurate with the City’s own budget increases over the past ten years.

Respectfully submitted

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc
CB9M Chair

Prepared by: J. Reyes-Montblanc and Lawrence McClean, District Manager

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