Seniors may not be as hard hit by the city’s proposed budget as they had been in the past, provided that elected officials can restore the discretionary funding that they typically provide.
The 2013 fiscal budget for the Department for the Aging is approximately $116 million — a decrease of about $25.5 million from last year — but that money can be put back, as has been done in previous years.
In June 2011, the City Council replaced $29 million to DFTA’s 2012 budget plus $5.5 million of its discretionary funds for senior services, according to the Council of Senior Centers and Services.
But case management services still sustained a 16.5 percent cut and $776,000 in social service contracts were eliminated, according to the group.
Bobbie Sackman, the director of public policy for CSCS, said she is pleased to see that there are no new cuts outlined in the proposed budget to DFTA.
“Obviously, it’s great news because in the past it has been cut so deeply,” Sackman said Tuesday.
But she added the City Council must work to restore its discretionary funding as well as the money that comes from the borough president to eliminate budget gaps as it does every year.
“We have been doing the ‘budget dance’ for many years,” Sackman said, “having to fight for the same money year after year.”
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) called the practice a waste of time and said it could be avoided if the mayor didn’t have control over the borough president’s discretionary funds, as per the City Charter. The administration has cut that money by about 40 percent over the last 10 years, according to the lawmaker.
“The City Charter lets them get away with it,” Comrie said. “Giuliani did it all the time, but he didn’t do it to the level Bloomberg did.”
He added that he had some concerns about whether sufficient funding would be restored. “We cannot afford to close senior centers in Queens. “We have an increasing, diverse senior population in the borough and they need to be taken care of.”