Roosevelt Island’s elected officials have written to the director of the New York State Authorities Budget Office (ABO) seeking a reversal of a decision that abolishes the community’s Public Purpose Fund.
Since the construction of Manhattan Park, Public Purpose Funds have been awarded to the community’s non-profit organizations to carry on important activities that help provide vital services. Manhattan Park developers funded the program by paying sales taxes into the fund, in lieu of submitting them as tax payments. The program was seen as critically important to kick-starting services that otherwise would not be readily available to an island community.
In mid-January, the ABO issued a ruling that applies to all State authorities and Public Benefit Corporations (RIOC is an example of the latter) prohibiting grants. This year’s awards have been stopped, dead in their tracks, by the ABO decision. It puts $100,000 worth of Island services in jeopardy.
Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, Senator Jose Serrano, and City Councilmember Ben Kallos wrote to David Kidera, ABO Director, asking the ABO to “reconsider its decision to effectively abolish RIOC’s authority to distribute” the funds, describing them “as essential to the Roosevelt Island community for a number of years,” and noting that “funds have been allocated annually... to various non-profit organizations, including the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association, the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery, the PTA, the Roosevelt Island Visual [Art] Association, and various other groups.
“All of these organizations share a similar purpose: to enhance the quality of life for Roosevelt Island residents.”
The letter notes that the Residents Association has made annual recommendations on the awards.
“As elected representatives of Roosevelt Island, we have heard concerns from residents and community groups about how this guideline will interfere with the Island’s ability to meet the needs of its residents... [W]e stand in support of RIOC’s control of Public Purpose Funds.”
The RIOC Board will meet Thursday at 5:30 at the Main Street Theatre and will consider an award to the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, which is also placed in jeopardy by the ABO decision.