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Nassau County Legislature

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May 9, 2006

Denenberg and Nassau Legislators call for restoration of Community Development Block Grants

Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) and fellow Nassau lawmakers called on Congressional representatives recently to join them in calling for the restoration of federal funds that are earmarked for local projects. Legislator Denenberg, chair of the Planning, Development and the Environment Committee, joined with fellow legislators, at a recent press conference to call attention to the devastating affects the president’s federal Budget Proposal for 2007 will have on Nassau County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, as well as other important programs. The proposed cuts will decimate funding of the County’s $15 million CDBG program which funds downtown revitalization projects, affordable housing initiatives and senior and youth programs throughout Nassau’s 64 villages, three towns and two cities.

“CDBG funding has served communities for 32 years as a resource to help cities, counties, and states meet their unique community development, affordable housing and economic development needs,” said Legislator Denenberg. “As leaders on Long Island, it is important for us to fully realize the implications that the Federal Budget has on our communities. The federal government has cut the funding for CDBG 15 percent since 2004, and is now proposing another 20 percent cut for 2007.  This is simply unacceptable.  Too many top lawmakers perceive Nassau County to be an affluent community.  We must make sure they see our many struggling local communities as well.”

Lawmakers were also joined by several village mayors and members of the Nassau County Village Mayors Association.

“At a time when economic development initiatives in Nassau County are critical, drastic budget cuts from the federal government will prove to be devastating by negatively impacting programs that help create jobs, increase sales tax revenue, redevelop abandoned and polluted sites, and revitalize blighted areas and downtowns,” said Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (Woodbury).

“The CDBG Program is a critical tool which Nassau County uses to encourage private investment in communities that are in need of economic revitalization,” said Patrick Duggan, Nassau County Deputy County Executive for Economic Development.

Legislator Denenberg at CDBG Press Conference

PHOTO CAPTION

Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), speaking at the podium, is flanked by: Deputy Presiding Officer Roger Corbin (D-Westbury); Legislator Dave Mejias (D-North Massapequa); and Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman at a recent press conference to call attention to the devastating affects the president’s federal Budget Proposal for 2007 will have on Nassau County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, as well as other important programs.

“Communities across New York would be devastated if these cuts are not stopped. The Community Development Block Grants program has long been a lifeline for local towns and cities, allowing them to make critical investments that have returns for years to come," said Senator Hillary Clinton, who is fighting with her colleagues in Washington to stop the budget cuts. "Since 1974, this successful program has provided critical funds to communities so that they can develop affordable housing, revitalize neighborhoods and provide economic development opportunities to those who need them most. I will do everything I can to try to stop these near-sighted funding cuts.”

The Community Development Block Grant program was funded at $4.441 billion in FY 2001.  It has been reduced by roughly $670 million, or 15.19 percent since FY01, making the number roughly $3.74 billion.  The President has proposed to cut CDBG formula funding by an additional $736 million, a 20 percent cut, for FY 2007.

“Once again, the federal budget proposal has ignored the interests of Long Island's communities and working families by putting the Community Development Block Grant Program on the chopping block,” said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.  “Years of federal budget cuts have passed new responsibilities to our already overburdened County and Village governments. Cutting CDBG grants essentially creates another unfunded mandate from the federal government.” 

“President Bush has once again proven that he is no friend of Nassau County,” said U.S. Rep. Congressman Ackerman, Dean of the Long Island Congressional Delegation. “The President is supposed to be the President of all Americans not just those residing in the red states.”

“Harry Truman used to have a sign on his desk that said ‘the buck stops here,’” noted Congressman Steve Israel. “But, it seems this Administration would rather pass the buck to the taxpayers of Nassau County and that is simply wrong. Our local communities need CDBG funds to provide vital services for families, including economic development and affordable housing.”

The President’s proposed $2.57 trillion budget would cut Nassau’s entire program and incorporate the federal CDBG program, along with 17 other programs, into the $3.71 billion Strengthening America's Communities Grant Program. That would provide about $2 billion less than the programs receive now.

“We are joining together today to send Washington a message that removing the funds is a mistake,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Roger Corbin (D-Westbury). “A budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the neediest people in our communities. This would be detrimental to so many segments of our population.”

“Many worthy programs, including ones focusing on anti-gang violence, are done through CDBG dollars,” said Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead).

“We must ensure that the Federal government understands that this funding is crucial to countless invaluable community programs and community revitalization projects,” said Legislator Dave Mejias (D-North Massapequa). 

“I’m pleased to be here today with my colleagues from all levels of government to join with them in strongly protesting proposed cuts in the federal Community Development Block Grant budget.  Community Development funds are intended to help the neediest members of our society, and any administration that proposes to reduce these much-needed resources has its priorities all askew.  The location of this press conference is more than symbolic,” said Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman.  “The Stoneridge Project that serves as a backdrop to this event—a carefully planned infusion of mixed use commercial and residential improvements—would not have been possible without Community Development funding.  Reducing the Community Development Block Grant budget will endanger future similar projects that are so important to communities in our town, and throughout our county.”

The proposed cuts to CDBG funds in 2007 will affect such programs as the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Catholic Charities Worklink Center, Freeport Youth Outreach, and Hi-Hello Child Care Center, Glen Cove CASA, senior centers and dozens of commercial and downtown rehabilitation throughout Nassau County.