An expense and budget priorities report for the upcoming fiscal year recently released by the Queens Borough Board found that the borough consistently ranked last or second to last in a majority of city services, despite Queens’ having the second-largest population among the five boroughs.
This doesn’t come as a surprise. For years, elected officials representing Queens and community leaders across its numerous communities have complained that the borough gets shortchanged in a variety of essential services. And the borough board’s report merely confirms this.
Queens ranks dead last for allocations to community boards and comes in fourth in terms of spending for children’s services, affordable housing and seniors, although the borough has the second-largest senior population in the city. And its cultural institutions received $845,138 less in funding this year than last.
The borough also has the most overcrowded schools— operating at an average 108 percent capacity— and greatest need for additional seats. During a Queens Borough Board meeting last week, budget director Richard Lee said that just more than half of the 35,259 additional seats requested for Queens’ schools have been allocated.
The only area in which Queens appears to be getting its fair share is funding for parks, where it ranked second behind Brooklyn. However, its libraries trailed behind Manhattan and Brooklyn in terms of the number of weekly scheduled hours.
With an estimated population of 2.3 million people, Queens is the second-most-populous borough, just behind Brooklyn’s 2.5 million residents, and the world’s most diverse county. And yet, Queens is getting a raw deal from the city.
The Queens Borough Board vowed during its meeting last week to recommend that the top priorities for each of its 14 community boards should be funded in the upcoming fiscal year.
While it’s encouraging that the board is listening to the needs of the borough’s neighborhoods as relayed by its community boards, the borough president’s office and elected officials representing Queens’ neighborhoods should call on the city to do more in giving us our fair share.