Posted tagged ‘District Budget’

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

Get Out and Vote Tomorrow for the Open At-Large DC Council Seat & Budget Autonomy Amendment

April 22, 2013

Budget AutonomyIf you didn’t take advantage of early voting, tomorrow is the official day to vote in the April 23rd special election for the At-Large Council seat vacated by Phil Mendelson when he became Council Chairman. The seat was temporarily filled by Anita Bonds who is among those running in the election to fill the seat. The full slate of candidates is:

  • Matthew Frumin
  • Perry Redd
  • Elissa Silverman
  • Patrick Mara
  • Anita Bonds
  • * Michael A. Brown – WITHDRAWN
  • Paul Zukerberg

The Lets Choose DC Website has some useful information on the candidates if you want to learn more about them.

In addition to the open At-Large seat, voters get to vote on a DC Charter Amendment on budget autonomy. In addition to the relevant text of the charter amendment from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics Website (below), you can learn more from the DCVote Website.

Turnout at special elections tends to be light. There are a few good candidates in this race and depending upon turn out it could very much be up for grabs.

Below is the text from the DCBOEE site relevant to the Charter Amendment:

Charter Amendment:  Local Budget Autonomy
Currently, the Home Rule Act requires affirmative Congressional action with respect to the entire District budget (both federal and local funds).

This Charter Amendment, if ratified, enacted and upheld, would permit the Council to adopt the annual local budget for the District of Columbia government; would permit the District to spend local funds in accordance with each Council approved budget act; and would permit the Council to establish the District’s fiscal year.


Some Highlights from Mayor Gray’s Ward 1 Budget Town Hall Meeting

April 17, 2013

If you were not able to attend Mayor Gray’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Town Hall Meeting for Ward One last week, I thought it would at least be good to make the Mayor’s PowerPoint presentation available. I’m sure that in going through the 33 slides there will be many areas of interest. Keeping in mind that the presentation was at a relatively high level, there were two areas that I wanted to draw out for the community.

The first was the continued renovation of the Park View School building. According to slide 25, the next phase of modernization is scheduled for FY 2018 with a budget of $6.6 million. At this time I am uncertain if this is the second or final phase of the modernization. Originally, phase two was scheduled for FY 2016, but the 2012 phase one work far exceeded the normal scope of a normal phase one modernization. Clearly there is more clarification needed here, but it is encouraging to see that the city is keeping its commitment to the school.

FY 14 Budget Schools

During the question and answer portion of the meeting, 1A Commissioner Dotti Love Wade specifically asked if the city was going to rebuild an elementary school on the Bruce-Monroe property at Irving and Georgia Avenue. On this issue, Mayor Gray responded that the District has no intention of building a new school on that site.

In addition to school improvements, another budgetary focus that will impact every resident is a planned five-year replacement plan for all of the City’s Supercans. The District is also planning to eliminate fees for the replacement of damaged or stolen cans and is seeking a design that will make the cans more rat proof.

FY 14 Budget Trash

While I’m sure there will be many other parts of the budget that will positively impact the community, the improvements to trash cans and schools jumped out for comment.


Mayor’s FY2014 Ward 1 Budget Town Hall on Thursday, April 11th

April 9, 2013

Are you interested in knowing more about Mayor Gray’s proposed FY2014 budget? If so, consider attending the Mayor’s town hall meeting this Thursday at the Columbia Heights Community Center.

ward 1 town hall flyer


Mayor Gray Submits Fiscal Year 2014 Budget to Council

March 29, 2013

Yesterday, Mayor Gray released his Fiscal Year 2014 proposed budget to the D.C. Council (press release below after the jump). This will begin the cycle of Budget Town Hall meetings (Ward 1’s is scheduled for April 11, 2013, from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Community Center) and DC Council hearings. While the proposed budget does tend to set a lot of the broad budgetary priorities, there is still a lot of wiggle room — which is why the Council hearings are important.

By going to the Council’s budget meetings residents can testify re: priorities and projects for which they are advocates. In reviewing Mayor Gray’s priorities, there are two that I think align with continuing needs we have in the community, which I believe makes them low hanging fruit. Those are the “multi-million dollar investment in expanding, improving and renovating the District’s parks and recreation facilities and programs” and his commitment to affordable housing.

Field house at the Park View Rec Center in 2009.

Field house at the Park View Rec Center in 2009.

While the Park View Recreation Center has recently benefited from outdoor improvements and upgrades and renovations to the main building, the historic 1932 field house still needs to be addressed, as well as the swimming pool and pool house. The entire rec center also needs to have a 10-15 year master plan for being completely reworked. The recent renovations were executed in a piece meal fashion and neither DPR or DGS was willing to entertain a master plan for the acre and a half property without a budget to back it up. This budget season, with the emphasis on recreation, could very well make renovating the old field house, if not more, a winnable argument in the Wilson Building.

The Hebrew Home for the Aged, at 1125 Spring Road, in 1967.

The Hebrew Home for the Aged, at 1125 Spring Road, in 1967.

Few will argue that affordable housing isn’t critical. In our area, every new development includes the conversation about how many units will be affordable. But, one thing that no one really seems to be talking about is affordable housing for seniors. Politicians and activists talk about aging in place and keeping seniors in their homes, and this is good.  But I don’t really hear anyone talking about expanding or diversifying affordable housing options for seniors. In our community, I think we have an excellent opportunity to do both.

The old Hebrew Home for the Aged, located at 1125 Spring Road, is currently vacant and owned by the District. Residents have talked about renovating it for affordable senior housing in the past but to no avail. This year would be a good year to restart the discussion and get things moving. All in all, this would be an easy win/win for our seniors.

Once I’m able to get more information on the Mayor’s proposed budget, I’m sure I’ll find other opportunities to head to the Wilson building and get behind as an advocate. I would encourage others to attend the budget town hall and Wilson Building budget meetings as well.

The full press release is after the jump (more…)

Mayor Gray Presents his FY2013 Budget to Ward 1

May 1, 2012

Mayor Gray at the Ward 1 FY2013 Budget presentation

Mayor Gray presented an overview of his proposed budget priorities for FY2013 last night at Bell Multicultural High School, 3101 16th Street, NW. The Ward 1 presentation was the last of his eight Ward presentations.

According to the Mayor’s PowerPoint presentation, his FY2013 budget proposal has three main goals and four development principles.

The goals:

  1. Diversity and grow the District’s economy;
  2. Educate and prepare our work force for the New Economy; and,
  3. Improve the quality of life for all.

The principles:

  1. Continue to prioritize strategic investments in education, public safety, and workforce development;
  2. Protect our most vulnerable residents;
  3. Ensure a structurally balanced budget (no use of fund balance); and,
  4. Balance the budget with no new taxes or fees.

There was a notable emphasis on education — both in funding schools and in capital improvements (such as school modernizations). In responding to a question after the presentation that questioned all the money going into schools, especially for adults without children, Gray replied that investment in education was investment in the District’s future in all areas.

Because there is a projected budget gap for FY2013, one of the Mayor’s proposed methods of making up some of that revenue would be to expand sales hours for alcoholic beverages by bars and restaurants. While very little print was give to this proposal, the Mayor actually spent some time discussing it during the presentation and it was a topic of concern by more than a couple residents during the follow up questions to the Mayor. Residents from Adams Morgan, in particular, noted their observations that services responding to concerns in that neighborhood are already inadequately addressed. Some noted their belief that any money raised by extending the sales hours for alcohol would merely pay for the increased policing, etc., of the problems that the extra hours would create.

For those interested in exploring the FY2013 budget proposal themselves, many relevant documents are currently available online and can be accessed here.


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