Some may have characterized Borough President Melinda Katz’s first official visit to Community Board 12 as a photo opportunity.
Katz characterized it as a call to action to support Queens schools, city services and medical care.
“If Queens does not speak with one voice, we’re going to lose out,” Katz said.
She was speaking primarily about making certain that the borough makes its case for sufficient city funding as Mayor de Blasio crafts his budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Katz last week heard the budget requests from community boards, and expects to present her own priorities within the next three weeks.
“We need to give the new administration time to balance their budget,” Katz said, before saying she expects a final spending plan to include sufficient resources for schools, jeopardized medical facilities and youth and senior citizen programs.
Katz is backing the de Blasio administration’s call for a tax increase to support universal prekindergarten; and said she, like the mayor, is wary of charter school co-location.
Continuing with the theme of education, Katz said she has fulfilled her promise to reopen former Borough President Claire Shulman’s education “war room,” where she will keep track of what resources are being allocated in Queens and what more are needed.
And she reiterated her call for the school curriculum to place as much emphasis on the arts, particularly music, as it does math, reading and science.
Katz said at the start of her talk that Borough Hall has a duty to work closely with the people and their community boards. And after she left, CB 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams reminded board members that Borough Hall has put out the word there are expectations of them —specifically in regard to attendance at board meetings.
“The absentee policy is there are no excused absences,” Adams said. “In individual cases you can call up and explain.”
Adams said Katz’s office has made it clear that there are many people on waiting lists seeking appointment to boards, and that chronic absenteeism could be grounds for either not reappointing a sitting member or outright removal.
“Be cognizant that there are people out there who want your seat,” she said.
The current policy at CB 12 is three consecutive absences, and a representative of Katz’s office said individual board policies would be taken into account when considering a case of excessive absence.