As a member of the Council's Budget Negotiating Team, I work hard every year to bring as much money back to Staten Island as possible—and this year was a successful one for us. From historic funding for our district attorney's office and Richmond University Medical Center to investments in libraries, cultural organizations and jobs for youth, this budget makes right many inequities of the past.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
This year, I helped secure a major funding increase for the office of the Richmond County District Attorney. To put this in perspective, our District Attorney’s office has NEVER received a funding increase. Never. Ever. This while we are dealing with an opioid and heroin addiction crisis of epic proportions – Staten Island is the epicenter of the opioid addiction crisis in NYC, with rates that far exceed those of our fellow boroughs. And we are also dealing with the gravest domestic violence crisis in the history of our borough. The two precincts in my district rank in the top five of police runs in the city related to domestic violence incidents.
Our DA’s office has lacked the funds to properly track and address these crises. With increased resources and staffing, finally, we will finally have the tools to fight them head on.
Dedicating additional funds to our DA’s office was one of my top priorities going into budget negotiations, and I’m proud that we came to an agreement that gives the DA’s office significant additional funding to prevent crime and protect public safety.
RICHMOND UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
Our second major victory in this budget is funding that will provide the building blocks for the rebuilding and revisioning of the emergency room at Richmond University Medical Center. Staten Island has some of the highest rates of smoking, substance abuse and chronic diseases in the city, yet our health care system has been consistently severely underfunded. The emergency room at RUMC was built decades ago, when our population was less than half of what it is now. With the significant ongoing and future development on the North Shore, securing funds for a new emergency department for RUMC has been top on my list of priorities throughout these months of budget negotiations and I'm proud to have spearheaded the effort to secure $13.5 million, to build a new, state of the art emergency facility to serve my constituents and all of Staten Island.
When North Shore students and teachers return to the classroom in September, they will return to find a combined total of $2.1 million in technology and technology and infrastructure improvements en route to their schools, thanks to capital allocations I made for Fiscal Year 2017.
It is important to me that teachers and students alike have all the tools they need for success in and out of the classroom. From laptop computers to smart boards, from sound and projection systems to playground redevelopments, these improvements will make a real difference in the learning experiences of our young people.
Prior to the 2017 Fiscal Year, I had allocated more than $10 million in funding to schools in my district. My Fiscal Year 2017 capital funds—which include $400,000 for new fields at Port Richmond High School, $210,000 for a state-of-the-art media center and television studio at the College of Staten Island, $100,000 for a sound and projection system at PS 13, and more than $1 million for computers and smartboards at 10 schools across the North Shore—now bring my total school allocations to more than $12 million.
Our world is changing at a rapid pace, making it even more important to ensure that our schools remain competitive. I know firsthand how technology and infrastructure can contribute to the learning experiences of our children, and so I was proud to allocate a significant portion of my capital funds to our local schools.
ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS IN OUR FUTURE
Additional capital allocations include $500,000 improvements to the West Brighton Library and $400,000 for Parks projects.
This year’s budget also brings to the North Shore $710,000 in discretionary funds, including $550,900 for community-based organizations, $47,500 for cultural organizations and $18,500 for museums. I am proud to bring this budget back to my constituents because I know these funds will reach tens of thousands of them throughout the next fiscal year.
In addition, the city’s 2017 budget will provide summer youth employment to more than 60,000 young people, year round jobs to 6,000 students, $43 million for improved library services, $10 million for cultural organizations and $1.7 million to extend pool and beach season.
A historic budget that invests in Staten Island
$13.5 million for RUMC. $3.6 million for our DA. $2.1 million for our schools. And much more.