The that had been at risk of closure to balance the city budget will stay open, including Bayside’s Engine 306, the city has announced.
The lion’s share of 2012 budget shortcomings were plugged with savings from 2011. Some had speculated that talks of cuts were a scare tactic wielded during budget negotiations.
“...I find it disgraceful that the Mayor would threaten the safety of communities like Bayside in order to gain concessions in the budget process," said State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside. "Bartering with residents’ safety is irresponsible and dangerous governing and, unfortunately, the Bloomberg administration has turned it into a habit,” he added.
Others concerned with the future of the firehouse felt the same.
“I feel like it was a way to play on people’s fears,” , during a phone-a-thon he organized to register complaints against the closures. “If you close 20 firehouses that would only add up to about $40 million, and when you’re talking about a budget as large as a scope as $60 billion, it really doesn’t actually make that big of a difference.”
In spite of those suspicions, s in of Engine 306—which is right off of Bell Blvd., and serves Bayside’s commercial district—did make a difference, believes Meara.
“Apparently, [people’s] voices were heard and the city passed a sensible, on time budget that keeps the residents of our communities safe,” Meara added.
The year 2012 budget, which takes effect in July, does not increase taxes, and incorporates , but does include 1,000 layoffs of non-uniformed city employees. The city tapped into years, savings in operational costs of city agencies and an increase in revenue. The United Federation of Teachers also made concessions that will lead to an expected $60 million, which include the ending of sabbaticals for one year, and requiring teachers that not working full-time assignments to work as substitutes.
"I want to thank all the parties involved in this agreement for their willingness to come together to prevent the harm that would come to our students from a massive loss of public school teachers," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
The city will also tap into approximately $700 million from the Retiree Health Benefit Trust.
“Without the use of those dollars, the City would have been forced to make more severe service cuts that would have a significant impact on quality of life throughout New York City,” read a statement from the Mayor’s Office.
"Tonight, we have agreed upon a fiscally responsible budget that does not raise taxes, and protects the core services that will allow us to continue growing our economy, improving our schools, and protecting our neighborhoods," Bloomberg added.
Northeast Queens in particular fared well, according to Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, pointing to the sparing of Fort Totten’s public swimming pool, senior services, the jobs of teachers and Engine 306.
“ pool has been saved, preserving public swimming options for Northeast Queens,” said Halloran, adding, “But most importantly, Engine 306 in Bayside has been preserved.
Updated, June 27, 2:55p.m.