We recently released our priorities for the New York City Fiscal Year ’22 budget, highlighting four major areas: parks, organic waste management, electric school buses and building emissions. In recent months, we testified in support of these priorities at various City Council budget hearings.
In order to fight climate change and protect public health, in this critical 3rd year of our play fair campaign, we the council to Play Fair Now and restore $78.9 million in the FY22 Parks budget to ensure our parks are safe, clean, and accessible.
- Baseline $10M to make permanent 100 City Park Workers and 50 Gardeners, and create secure, stable jobs.
- $30M to restore the critical Seasonal staff budget for maintenance and operations workers citywide.
- $3M to restore the Parks Opportunity Program and provide a pathway to full-time employment.
- $4.5M for NYC’s natural forests, wetlands, and trails to receive the proactive care and maintenance they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate, and as they receive unprecedented use by New Yorkers.
- $15M to restore critical parks forestry contracts for tree pruning, stump removal and sidewalk repair, and invasive species control.
- $4M to restore the Parks Equity Initiative, and support park stewardship organizations citywide.
- $3.4M to restore 15 GreenThumb staff, and expand access to plant materials, resources and tools for community gardeners citywide.
- $3M to hire 50 Urban Park Rangers to connect New Yorkers with the nature that surrounds us, and help ensure our parks remain safe and accessible for all.
- $6M to restore 80 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers citywide to make sure our parks are safe.
Parks and other green spaces are one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets and are a major source of the city’s urban canopy, which mitigates climate change, provides clean air and habitats for native wildlife, and contributes to the well-being of our residents and economy.
The second priority for the FY22 budget is to fund the Department of Sanitation (DoS). DoS must receive $4 million in order to fund staff, consultants, and data management needed to implement Commercial Waste Zones (CWZ). Additionally, the FY22 budget must include $14 million to fund composting programs across the city. This $14M in funding will set the city up to take aggressive waste reduction actions in the near future. Initially, the City Council should pass Intros 1942 and 1943, sponsored by Council Members Powers and Reynoso respectively. These bills would establish community compost and recycling drop off sites to equitably serve New York City’s residents by establishing and enforcing good recycling habits and reducing waste. Achieving Zero Waste and carbon neutrality will require financial commitments from the City in this and future budgets and we look forward to working with the City to achieve this goal.
The third priority highlighted by NYLCV for the FY22 budget is the allocation of funds towards the electrification of school buses in New York. It is unacceptable and unsustainable for the Department of Education to continue allowing bus companies to pollute our air with diesel buses. A transition to cleaner fuel technologies is necessary for the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations. In addition to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, diesel school buses emit harmful particulate matter into the air and the cabin of the buses that damage the respiratory systems of children.
NYLCV is asking for $3 million from the FY22 budget for the purchasing of electric school buses, which will not only decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in our air, but also improve the health and the lives of all New Yorkers and specifically school-aged children. This funding, along with grants from the NY Truck Voucher Incentive Program (TVIP), will cover the difference in the cost of replacing 15-17 diesel buses with type A electric school buses along with the necessary charging infrastructure.
Finally, the League would also like to see more funding towards the The Office of Building Energy and Emission Performance (OBEEP) in order to make steps towards reducing emissions from buildings by 2050 as outlined in Local Law 97 of 2019 (LL97). In order to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, as outlined by Mayor de Blasio, the single largest step the City can take to meet 80×50 is by drastically reducing emissions from buildings.
OBEEP will be responsible for these next steps and therefore must be fully staffed and funded. Previously, NYLCV estimated that OBEEP would require $2M in the FY20 budget and the City should incrementally increase that to $20M in the FY25 budget to ensure that they have the necessary resources for the first year of regulatory enforcement. We believe OBEEP is currently understaffed when it comes to tackling LL97 implementation, and furthermore could see additional cuts due to the COVID-19 budget crisis. We ask that the City Council fully fund OBEEP so that it can effectively implement LL97 and help us drastically reduce emissions from the building sector.
NYLCV continues to advocate for adequate funding for programs and initiatives that seek to reduce emissions, better air quality, increase green spaces, and more.
Just last week, the NYC Council released its initial response to the Mayor’s proposed budget which included some, but not all, of the asks outlined by NYLCV. They included all of the funding we highlighted would be necessary in the sanitation budget for CWZ and organics programs. They also included $48.9M for the parks department to restore some of the funding that the playfair campaign requested.
The Council did not include the $3M for electric school buses or any additional funding for OBEEP in their response.
Other notable inclusions that NYLCV did not explicitly have in their asks but are glad to see are restored funding to the vision zero outreach campaign and dollars for solar panels on school roofs.