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Mayor’s Office Pushes Back on Council Cuts to Budget During Roundtable

THE AFRO — The Mayor’s office pushed back against several cuts the D.C. Council proposed. Those cuts impact the city’s most vulnerable residents in many ways official said this week.

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City Administrator Rashad M. Young spoke on behalf of the mayor’s office about concerns proposed in the D.C. Council’s budget. (Courtesy Photo)
By George Kevin Jordan

The Mayor’s office pushed back against several cuts the D.C. Council proposed. Those cuts impact the city’s most vulnerable residents in many ways official said this week.

City Administrator Rashad M. Young said, “We are concerned that there are some changes recommended by the committee that impact critical programs and investments and in some respects disproportionately impacts those residents in our community who are most vulnerable and require the safety net we’re investing in.”

The top priority of concern were cuts that would impact housing. For instance the committee would:

  • Reverse the policy that dedicates 15 percent of deed recordation and deed transfer tax revenue to the Housing Production Fund.

According to the mayor’s office this is the primary way to create affordable housing. Through the Housing Preservation Fund the District has been able to create some 5600 new units of affordable housing, since 2015. The mayor’s office said as a result of the cuts 100 new affordable housing units will not be built.

  • Cut $3 million from the Housing Preservation Fund.

This cut digs into the way the District keeps affordable housing. According to the mayor’s office because of the Housing Preservation fund the city has been able to preserve 878 units in affordable housing across eight projects in Ward’s 1,4, 7 and 8.

Another big hit is in the area of jobs. The committee cuts include:

  • Slashing $2.2 million from MPD budget, which will result in a hiring freeze according to the mayor’s office.
  • Another cut of $1 million in funds for correctional officers at the Jail, would reduce hiring at the jail.

The biggest cut regarding work are the committees $17.4 million from employment and workforce development programs beginning in 2021. This cut would end Project Empowerment, Career Connections and the adult job training programs. The Mayor’s office said the cuts would impact over 1,400 residents.

Other cuts that could impact vulnerable communities in wards 5, 7  and 8 include a $2.1 million cut for Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which was used to help bring in groceries and other healthy food options to those areas.

Next summer some 1,400 summer camp slots would be cut as a result of the $522,000 cut to the Department of Parks and Recreation. About one third of those slots were for kids in Wards 7 and 8.

The mayor’s office also butted against the reduction of United Medical Center’s operating subsidy from $40 million to $15 million which the office contended would only be achieved by reduction of services and job cuts.

It wasn’t all bad, as Young pointed out when questioned during the roundtable discussion with reporters. Mayoral officials did admit to receiving about 90 percent of what they wanted from the budget. “They did lots of things that were good,” Young said pointing toward the Workforce Housing Fund, and Homeward D.C., where little change has been made.

“I think we want to communicate with some of the members [about] some of the impacts to what they have done,” Young said. “Hopefully we can work with the Council in partnership to make some changes.”

According to D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute the FY 2020 Budget Season is a long and sometime contentious journey. There has been public discourse and debate about the FY 2020 since earlier in the year. The first budget vote is schedule for May 14 and the second budget vote is scheduled for May 28. This week the D.C. Council is in budget work sessions.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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