Archive for the ‘District Budget’ category

Columbia Heights Budget Engagement Forum Well Attended

February 28, 2017
Full house at the Feb. 27th Budget Engagement Forum.

Full house at the Feb. 27th Budget Engagement Forum.

The third and final budget engagement forum was held last night (2/27) at the Columbia Heights Education Campus and was very well attended. The meeting was organized as a series of round tables, each with a facilitator. The goal of the discussions were to come to some consensus on how much of the Districts operating dollars should be allocated to six key areas — Housing; Public Safety; Government Operations; Retirement Costs & Other; Jobs & Economic Opportunity; Education; and Health & Human Services (chart below shows current allocations).

Each participant was given a form with the budget areas and asked to allocate $100 to each of the six areas to show their priorities. After this exercise, the same information was discussed in each group with the highest allocation documented on a separate sheet. In my group adding these number up came up with a total of $140 ($40 over budget). This followed with the group then discussing how to reduce allocations in some areas to balance the total to $100.

Overall, to me, the most value in the exercise was listening to each participant explain why there were giving some categories higher allocations than others. I advocated for money for Education because teachers have not had raises or even cost of living increases in a while and because parks and recreation improvements also fall under the education umbrella. One member of my group was advocating for decreasing the public safety allocation as they see the police as reacting to crime rather than addressing causes of crime (which may be addressed through other budget areas).

While the forums can help the Mayor decide how much of the budget needs to go to these priorities, the real opportunities to advocate for specific needs will be at the coming DC Council budget oversight hearings.

budget engagement chart(Chart from budget engagement forum presentation showing current allocations to budget priority areas.)

Third DC Budget Engagement Forum to be in Columbia Heights, February 27th!

February 24, 2017

The third and final District Budget Engagement Forum is Monday, February 27th, at the Columbia heights Educational Campus [RSVP here]. The forum is scheduled to fun from 6:30-8:30 pm. Mayor Bowser’s budget engagement forums are where residents can share some of their ideas, suggestions, and budget priorities for 2018! As the forum on Monday is the one most convenient for Ward 1 residents, it is the one I’ve signed up to attend.


Brief Overview from Mayor Gray’s Ward 1 Budget Town Hall

May 9, 2014
(Click for slide deck from Ward 1 Budget Town hall meeting)

(Click for slide deck from Ward 1 Budget Town hall meeting)

Mayor Gray held his seventh Budget Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, May 6th, for Ward 1 residents. For a general overview of what Mayor Gray presented, I have scanned my copy of the handout and provided access to is to the right (click on image).

Overall, the presentation went about as I expected. I’ll highlight a few areas that I think are noteworthy for the community in particular.

1) The budget continues  to invest in education. According to the Mayor, an additional educational investment of $116M is in the budget. There is also $1.6B in the budget for citywide school modernizations.

In FY2015, $404 million is in the budget for modernization projects. The money breaks down like this:

  • High Schools – $173.8M
  • Middle Schools – $20.4M
  • Elementary Schools – $115.7M
  • General Improvements – $94.4M

There are no Ward 1 schools in the modernization budget for FY2015 … however the following Ward 1 schools are in the five year budget projection:

  • Banneker HS – $67.1M
  • Bancroft ED – $35.4M
  • Marie Reed ES – $45.5 M (this building would be razed and completely rebuilt)
  • Tubman ES – $11.2M
  • Adams ES – $12.2M
  • Washington Metro ES – $949M

2) Beyond schools, the following items also struck me as noteworthy:

  • $100M to Affordable Housing — including a $1M increase to emergency rental assistance, a $1M increase to rapid rehousing, and a $1M increase in home purchase assistance;
  • A $2M increase in funding for Senior Wellness Centers (I know this is greatly needed and hope to see the Ward 1 Center on Georgia Avenue benefit from this);
  • Funding for a police force of over 4,000 officers; and,
  • Funding for the streetcar system ($810M), a Circulator bus garage ($41M), and $49M to purchase more Circulator buses.

What I didn’t See

The most conspicuous omission from the Budget — including the five year projection — was funding for the final phase of the modernization of the historic Park View school building. The school was originally scheduled to be modernized in three phases falling in fiscal year’s 2012, 2016, and 2018. The 2012 modernization included a lot of work beyond a normal phase one, so while I was disappointed to see the 2016 phase removed from last year’s budget, I wasn’t surprised either. However, the complete removal of the school from the projected five-year budget this time around was unexpected.

To this point, Councilmember Graham attended a few minutes of the Mayor’s Town Hall at the beginning of the evening and brought up the absence of Ward 1 schools from the FY15 budget along with the removal of the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View work entirely. At the end of the presentation, I also sought clarification on the modernization issue during the question portion of the meeting at the end of the program.

In response to my query, Director Hanlon of the Department of General Services mentioned that the final phase for the Park View school is now scheduled for 2021. Mayor Gray added that if there were any urgent issues at the school that there might be an opportunity to have them addressed through other programs and encouraged me to send him a list of priorities.

As of the time of this writing, I have already obtained and submitted the school’s list of priorities, and am in the process of setting up the appropriate meetings to see where we get. I’ll keep all informed I make progress.

Happily, an elevator and two lifts have already been approved to address the school’s need to be in ADA compliance with work beginning this now.


Ward 1 FY15 Budget Town Hall Meeting is Tomorrow

May 5, 2014

Mayor Gray is hosting his Ward 1 FY2015 Budget Town Hall Meeting tomorrow (see flyer below). This is a great opportunity to learn about the City’s current budget priorities and ask questions about projects that may not be in the budget. I hope to see you there.


Ward 1 Budget Town Hall Meeting Scheduled for May 6

April 15, 2014

At the beginning of April, Mayor Gray’s FY15 budget documents were posted on the Web site for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. It is worth a look. During the past several years, the section outlaying the five year capital improvement plan has been of particular interest to me as it documents planned school modernization projects.

In our area, it is notable that the future modernization phases for the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school are no longer reflected in the five-year projection. During the FY14 Budget Town Hall meeting, it was learned that the remaining modernization schedule for the school had slipped from FY2016/2018 to FY2018/2020. While the absence of the school from the FY15 budget documents may seem dire, projected capital projects can move in and out of budgets from year to year and it is very possible that this project can show up again in the FY16 budget.

With regards to the Park View School building modernization, I have been in close communication with DCPS, DGS, and the budget office and have requested more details and background information as it relates to the school’s modernization. Chancellor Henderson has responded that “Commissioner Boese will receive an official response to his correspondence as soon as possible,” and I’ll share what I learn when it arrives. One bit of great news that Chancellor Henderson has also shared in advance of DCPS’s response is that FY14 money has been identified to address Bruce-Monroe @ Park View’s ADA compliance issues this summer. These improvements will be two years earlier than originally planned. 

Nearby Raymond and Harriet Tubman Elementary schools are also both in the FY15 budget and listed for FY19 modernizations. Here again, when compared to last year, Harriet Tubman’s FY2016/2019 has been pushed back solely to 2019.

All-in-all, there are probably a lot of questions about the budget. Like previous years, Mayor Gray is hosting a series of budget town hall meetings in each Ward so residents can learn more about his budget and ask questions about changes to the budget. The date for Ward 1’s meeting is May 6th. The flier below contains all the details you need to know to attend the event.

2014 Budget Town Hall meeting

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