Parks Chair Levine Decries Return of the Budget Dance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // [email protected]
CITY HALL, NEW YORK – Following the release of Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget for FY 18, Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee, decried the return of the “budget dance” related to funding of 150 critical parks workers. These workers perform important gardening and maintenance functions all over the city, including in parks which are part of the mayor’s signature Community Parks Initiative. In each of the past two years the City Council has had to fund these staff lines after the mayor failed to do so in his preliminary and executive budgets.
With these cuts the Parks Department’s total headcount will drop to 3,579, down over 40% from peak levels of decades past. Moreover, in the past few decades the share of New York’s total budget devoted to parks has fallen from 1.7% to under 0.6% today.
“A thriving park system isn’t just a luxury in a dense city of 8.5 million people. It’s essential to livability,” said Council Member Levine. “These workers are critical to supporting healthy parks across the five boroughs and advancing the Park Equity Agenda, aimed at strengthening parks in low-to moderate- income neighborhoods that have been long neglected. Despite overall park use in New York City surging, we now spend less per capita on our parks than San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.”
“Parks are critical pieces of infrastructure, as essential to the health of our city as quality roads, schools and sewers. Infrastructure isn’t just bricks and mortar; it’s also the dedicated maintenance staff who keep it up and running. We encourage the Mayor to baseline funding for these 150 parks workers, who do the critical day-to-day work of keeping our parks clean, accessible and inviting,” said Lynn Kelly, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks.