Funding for the Queens Library that Mayor Bloomberg had proposed cutting in the fiscal 2014 budget was restored in the spending plan he and the City Council agreed to on June 23.
The $70 billion accord will include none of the $29.6 million in cuts the mayor had proposed for the Queens Library, which is a private entity but relies on the city for most of its funding. The reductions would have marked a 35 percent decrease in funding and would have resulted in the shutdown of 36 of the library’s 62 locations and the loss of 420 jobs, according to library officials.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, hailed the restoration of the funds, as well as tens of millions more that will go to the city’s two other library systems and various cultural organizations, in an announcement issued Monday.
“As a lifelong lover of libraries and the arts I am absolutely thrilled with the complete restoration of funding for these vital services and programs,” Van Bramer said, crediting Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and other members for preventing the spending reductions. “As chairman of the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, it has always been my goal to restore every cent of the $106 million in cuts to libraries and the $65 million in cuts to culture and the arts.”
Van Bramer, who was a Queens Library official before winning his seat on the Council, said the funding will let libraries citywide remain open five or six days a week, which they could not do under the mayor’s plan.
For the last several years in a row, Bloomberg has proposed cutting funding to libraries and afterschool programs, as well as closing 20 fire companies across the city, sparking rallies organized by the targeted institutions and the citizenry. The fiscal 2014 budget, which takes effect July 1, is Bloomberg’s last, as he will leave office at the end of the year. It is balanced, as required by law, but the mayor projects a $2 billion deficit for fiscal 2015.