More work and less resources–so continues the saga of the LPC’s funding history.  At public hearing of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, LPC leadership presented a preliminary budget for FY 2012.  The jist: with less staff and insufficient funds … we’ll figure it out.
Personnel  is DOWN.
          61:  Number of staff persons at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
                  (Does not include the 11-member expert commissioners who review proposals
                  at public hearing on a volunteer basis).

             3: Reduction in number of staff (through attrition) at the LPC going into 
                  Fiscal Year 2012.
Funding is DOWN.
 $4.79 million: Proposed FY 2012 budget of the LPC.

                 8%: Percentage cut for the LPC’s FY 2012 budget from the FY 2011 budget.
Workload is UP.
      9,229: Number of permits issued in Fiscal Year (FY, meaning July 1 to June 30) 2010.  
                  That’s an average of nearly 770 permits issued every month.

      6,824: Number of applications received (not all necessarily processed) by 
                  February 2011 for FY 2011.  With four months left in the year and 
                  an average of 770 permits issued, it’s fair to assume FY 2011 will yield 
                  about 9,904.  A 7% increase in the number of applications demanding 
                  LPC staff energies and resources.
Council members Leroy Comrie (Chair, Land Use
Comm.) and Brad Lander (Chair, Subcommittee
on Landmarks) listen to the LPC’s presentation.
LPC Chair Robert Tierney and Executive Director Kate Daly shared with the Land Use Committee, chaired by Council member Leroy Comrie, a laundry list of FY 2010 success stories (more designations in the outer boroughs this year than during any other in the agency’s 45 year history) and 2011 goals (anticipated launch of publicly accessible informational database to increase the LPC’s transparency and make info more readily available to the public).  All this was achieved on an already-tight budget.

LPC funding has recently been on the minds and lips of the city-wide preservation community, as the LPC proposed–and on March 8th approved–increases in the LPC’s application fees.  Neither at past public hearings, when pressed by the public, nor today before the Land Use Committee did the LPC connect fee increases to the LPC’s budget.

LPC Chair Robert Tierney and Exec. Dir. Kate Daly present
their Fiscal Year 2012 budget to the Land Use Committee.
Chair Tierney submitted a preliminary FY 2012 budget of $4,799,376.  That’s an 8% drop from the FY 2011 budget of just over $5.23 million (as available via the Office of Management and Budget’s website).  The LPC’s designations only continue to expand the New York City landmarks family–indeed, the proposed West End Avenue historic district extensions to be heard by the Commission this year would add another 800+ buildings to their stewardship roster.

LW! testified before the Land Use Committee, stating our strong support of a well-funded LPC.  We directly recommended a budget increase of $1 million.  The Historic Districts Council appeared before the Land Use Committee as well, underscoring the minimal resources appropriated to the LPC and the immense volume of work set before it.  HDC Executive Director Simeon Bankoff urged the Committee to seriously consider a meaningful budget increase to the LPC, noting that other city agencies such as the Dept. of Information Technology and Telecommunications (also presenting their preliminary FY 2012 budget to the Land Use Committee) have budgets up to 100 times as large as that of the Landmarks Commission.  

Rounding out the public testimony portion of the hearing was Claudette Brady from the Bedford Corners Historic District Joint Block Association (located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn).  Her community, she reported, has become energized by the landmark possibilities.  The LPC’s research department identified approximately 8,500 buildings in the neighborhood that merit landmark consideration, she continued.  While the all-volunteer group has secured the support of nearly all their elected officials, the fear that a reduction in LPC resources would lead to a loss of momentum is very real.

In the past, HDC noted, the City Council has been able to make increases to the tune of $500,000 to the LPC’s budget.  That’s 10% of their proposed FY 2012 budget.  Can the Land Use Committee and the City Council do it again?  Better yet, can they best themselves?  Stay tuned …
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