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Bringing home BK pork - Breakdown of the 2009 fiscal year city budget

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While many community-based organizations received less or no funding in the recently passed $59.1 billion 2009 fiscal year city budget, Brooklyn lawmakers were still able to bring some serious pork home to the borough.

Among the recipients of sizable chunks of change on the capital funding side of the budget was Brooklyn Bridge Park, which received $3.1 million in City Council funds.

According to Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy President Marianna Koval and Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Regina Myer, the money will go toward funding the proposed playground at Pier 6 off the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the proposed 80-acre waterfront park.

Koval and Myer said they anticipate also getting $2 million through Borough President Marty Markowitz’s FY ’09 city budget allocation of roughly $90 million for capital projects.

Markowitz spokesperson Laura Sinagra would not confirm any capital funding on Markowitz’s part for any Brooklyn projects until the portion is reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“So far as Brooklyn Bridge Park is concerned, we’re hoping to get as much as possible, but I can’t verify an amount until we hear from OMB, but the project is exciting and Marty wants to be able to help,” said Sinagra.

Other capital projects being funded through the budget include Brooklyn College ($1.3 million) for the refurbishment of Ingersoll Hall, Kingsborough Community College ($1.5 million) for mechanical upgrades, Coney Island Hospital ($1.5 million) for medical equipment upgrades, and the Prospect Park Alliance ($2 million) toward the construction of the Lakeside Center Ice/Roller Rink.

Other entities that received capital funding through the budget include the historic Wyckoff House on Clarendon Road in Flatbush, which received $1 million for the erection of a barn.

Additionally, the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Cultural District received a $3 million capital allocation with an additional $4 million earmarked already in next year’s budget for community theaters and the 653 Fulton Street project.

Interestingly, the City Council refused to budget the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP), which oversees the development of Downtown Brooklyn, including the BAM Cultural District.

The DBP was created through Mayor Bloomberg’s office under a three-year allocation of $2 million per year, or $6 million.

Under the FY 2009 budget, the DBP will receive $1.5 million or $500,000 less with the money coming through the mayor’s side of the budget.

“In a very difficult budget year, it is gratifying that the city administration agreed to provide the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership with funds to support our ongoing efforts to continue the resurgence of the city’s third-largest business district,” said DBP President Joe Chan.

“We will be able to fulfill our mission within the budget provided,” he added.

City Councilmember Lew Fidler said all the capital funding for the borough came through the City Council, not the mayor, and hundreds of cuts worth millions of dollars were made to key non-profit organizations by Bloomberg.

Among the big non-profit losers was Agudath Israel of America, which provides a variety of community services to the Orthodox Jewish community, mostly in Brooklyn.

The organization received a paltry $3,500 from this year’s budget compared to $383,000 last year.

All of Brooklyn’s cultural institutions took hits across the board as did similar institutions citywide, said Fidler.

Fidler said services to Holocaust victims were cut to zero, and $1 million in cuts were made to non-profits dealing with infant mortality and the AIDS/HIV virus.

Originally the Bloomberg administration cut $8.2 million to summer jobs for youth, but the Council was able to restore about $6.6 million, said Fidler.

Fidler said this cut was particularly shortsighted in it will result in about 1,500 fewer jobs for summer youth, who in turn usually spend the money they make back in their own neighborhood and thus help stimulate the local economy.

The City Council resisted Bloomberg’s urging to increase property taxes, and they will stay at the same rate as in the 2008 fiscal budget, said Fidler.

However, Fidler did say taxes will go up for some property owners due to state formulas on assessing properties. In Brooklyn this will average a $167 yearly increase for property owners, Fidler said.

Fidler was able to get over $400,000 for the Bergen Basin Community Development Corporation doing business as Millennium Development, one of the nonprofit organizations in his district.

Fidler said Millennium runs seven youth programs and seven senior centers.

Millennium also won competitive bidding contracts through the City’s Department for the Aging and the Department of Youth and Community Development, he said.

“If I can’t manage to fund them, they will close senior and youth programs in the district,” he said.

- With Jordan Siegel

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