It is often stated by philosophers and theologians that “Budgets are moral documents.” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser drove that point home as she visited the ANC 4B monthly meeting on Monday evening to evangelize for her proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.
Mayor Bowser was on friendly turf, as she returned to the Advisor Neighborhood Commission where she served for many years and launched her political ascendency. Flanked by a legion of her major Department chiefs, she arrived right on time and held court for over an hour, stepping through her presentation with easy comfort and answering questions from the commissioners and audience.
Highlights of her budget proposal include:
- Adding $100 million added to Housing Production Trust Fund
- Expanding and improving Child Care in the District by encouraging providers to create more spaces for infants and toddlers
- Strengthening “Pathways to the Middle Class”
- Focus on increasing prosperity for African Americans families
- Establishing an “Infrastructure Academy” to train young people to work on upcoming utility projects
- Implementing infrastructure improvements
- Decreasing the number of local roads tagged with a “Failing” grade
- “Alley-palooza” program, which upgrades a set of alleys in each Ward over an eight-week period
- Increasing Police officer retention by adding incentives like tuition forgiveness
- Improving 911 response by adding an ambulance contractor and improving call center staffing
- Creating a Nurse-triage line to reduce unnecessary ambulance trips and emergency room visits
- Providing full funding for DC schools, including renovations that directly affect Ward 4:
- MacFarland Middle School
- Coolidge High School
- Renovated Gymnasium/Community Room for Shepherd Elementary School.
- Setting aside funds to renovate the Lamond-Riggs library
You can read the entirety of the Mayor’s proposed budget here: https://cfo.dc.gov/node/289642
Commissioners and Citizens had a wide variety of questions for the Mayor. I’ll highlight a few below:
Resident and Takoma Rec volunteer Stacy Mills leveled a long list of allegations at the Department of Parks and Recreation, including mismanagement of the city’s tennis programs and sexual harassment of female employees within the department. Mayor Bowser calmly disagreed with the assertions and suggested that Ms. Mills present her information to the Inspector General’s office.
Several residents asked about a clustering of group homes in a neighborhood near Kansas and Eastern Avenues by a single developer. The neighbors are not opposed to group homes, but feel that they are being overwhelmed by the number of them located so closely together. The mayor made note of possible constraints on city action because of Fair Housing laws, but pledged to investigate the issue further.
The Takoma Dog Park: Mayor Bowser weighed in on the contentious dog park issue by not weighing in. Essentially, she said that the $500,000 is in the budget and now it is a DPR issue. She would like to see a dog park in Ward 4 but she is not going to give any input on where she thinks it should be located.
When the Mayor left the room, three quarters of the audience left with her. But believe it or not, the commissioners remained for another hour and a half to hear presentations from DC Water (meter replacement program and Green Infrastructure program [www.dcwater.com/rockcreekgreen]), the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, DCI public charter school and the developers of the Walter Reed LRA, who presented this snazzy 3D printed model of the building scale and topography of the future site.
This was an epic meeting in every sense of the word. Three important dates to come out of the meeting were:
• ABRA will have a community training at the Reeves Center on May 18th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Come learn how to support or protest liquor license renewals
• The Whittier EC PTA will have a Community Day on May 6th from 11 am to 3 pm. All are invited.
• Mayor Bowser will continue her ANC tour by visiting with ANC 4A at their next meeting on May 3, 2017.