On Tuesday, May 15, 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia held the first of two votes on the District of Columbia Budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The second vote is scheduled to take place Tuesday, May 29, 2018.
The budget is the culmination of months of hearings and hundreds of hours of public testimony, resulting in a budget that invests in new facilities for Ward 5 residents of all ages, addresses root causes of crime through continued implementation of the NEAR Act, and supports neighborhoods and small business retail corridors. The following represents highlights of the proposed FY19 Budget:
Ward 5 Priorities:
- Funding for improvements to Model Cities Senior Wellness Center. This popular senior facility will benefit from a renovation to expand opportunities to promote senior health and wellness.
- $15 million in funding for a new Lamond-Riggs Library. Ward 5 is home to just two of D.C.’s 26 public libraries and this $15 million in funding in Fiscal Year 2019 builds on the $5 million realized for planning activities in Fiscal Year 2018, bringing the total investment in the new Lamond-Riggs Library to $20 million.
- $500,000 to study bus service on New York Avenue NE. While the New York Avenue NE corridor continues to grow with new residents and retail options, this prominent gateway to the city has no public transportation options. This study will explore expanding D.C.’s Circulator bus system up New York Avenue NE all the way to Ivy City.
- $5 million to renovate Fort Lincoln Park and $13.18 million for the Theodore Hagans Cultural Center. Fort Lincoln Park and the Theodore Hagans Cultural Center, which serve the growing Fort Lincoln and Dakota Crossing communities, needed these upgrades funded across the FY18 and FY19 capital budget. The $5 million investment in Fort Lincoln Park will provide funding for new gazebos, new landscaping, a playground, lighting, field replacement, renovation to tennis courts, and new way-finding signage. The $13.18 million for Theodore Hagans Cultural Center will modernize the existing facility to allow for a new gymnasium space, a kitchen, and ADA-compliance upgrades.
- Expansion of Clean Team programs across Ward 5. The budget funds two new clean teams in Ward 5: one along South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road, and one servicing the Fort Lincoln and Dakota Crossing areas. The Clean Teams not only help to clean streetscapes and remove litter, graffiti, snow, and other debris, they also provide much needed employment opportunities for returning citizens and other economically disadvantaged residents. The new Clean Teams will complement the existing Ward 5 clean teams servicing 12th Street NE, Bladensburg Road NE, New York Avenue NE, North Capitol Street NE, and Rhode Island Avenue NE.
- Support for small businesses and retail corridors with two new Ward 5 Main Street organizations, the South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road Main Street and the Bladensburg Road Main Street. The Main Street program promotes the revitalization of the traditional business district and supports retail corridors through provision of services and grants to attract and retain businesses in the area. In Fiscal Year 2019, Ward 5 will welcome two new Main Street organizations, complementing the existing Main Street organizations operating in Ward 5, which are North Capitol Street Main Street, Rhode Island Avenue Main Street, and H Street Main Street.
- Improved pedestrian safety along Michigan Avenue NE between Franklin Street NE and 4th Street NE. This pedestrian safety feature, also known as a H.A.W.K. signal, illuminates a lighted signal to vehicles when a person approaches and enters the crosswalk.
- New long-term funding for a new Langdon Park Recreation Center. Last year, Councilmember McDuffie established a foothold for a new, state-of-the-art Langdon Park Recreation Center with $5 million in funding in Fiscal Year 2023. This year, that $5 million is augmented with an additional $14.7 million in funding in Fiscal Year 2024, for a total of $19.7 million.
- Funding to improve the triangle park at Rhode Island Avenue NE/Brentwood Road NE and 14th Street NE. $150,000 will provide this underutilized park with funding for repairs and maintenance to make the parcel more welcoming to residents and to help combat nuisance activity.
- $150,000 in funding for beautification of the future Zaire Kelly Park in Brentwood. Last fall, this vacant, District-owned lot at 13th Street NE/Downing Street NE/W Street NE was the site of the tragic murder of Zaire Kelly. The beautification funded in this budget builds on The Zaire Kelly Park Designation Act of 2018 [B22-0665], introduced by Councilmember McDuffie in January 2018. Beautification efforts will include re-bricking the park walkways, repainting the park’s mesh wall to remove graffiti, rehabilitating the existing fence, planting flowers, undertaking other landscaping efforts, and performing regular lawn care.
- Funding for a statue to honor Native Washingtonian and civil rights icon, Charles Hamilton Houston. While the District of Columbia is rightly known for its grand monuments and memorials, there is only one statue of an African-American who was born in D.C. (Duke Ellington), and only eight statues honoring African-Americans in the entire District of Columbia. Charles Hamilton Houston is a native Washingtonian and graduate of Dunbar High School who laid the legal framework responsible for dismantling the American system of segregation and whose contributions to progress and justice in America will be recognized through this memorial statue.
- Continued funding and implementation of the Rail Safety and Security Amendment Act of 2017. In the wake of the rail accident and resulting spill in May 2016, Councilmember McDuffie sought to establish rail safety standards in D.C. This budget continues funding to implement the safety standards and standup D.C.’s rail safety office.
- Instructs the District Department of Transportation to engage in targeted sidewalk, curb cut, and tree removal activities across the District and Ward, specifically in neighborhoods heavily populated with seniors and persons living with disabilities.
- $500,000 in funding for revitalization of the New York Avenue Playground, the oldest playground in the District. This investment will renovate this underutilized park and provide a great resource for the community.
Supporting Seniors and Vulnerable Citizens:
- Additional $200,000 in funding to support seniors and residents with disabilities through the Transport D.C. program, which provides shared-rides and door-to-door service in taxis for individuals who would have otherwise relied on Metro Access. This program has a lower per-ride cost to the District than Metro Access and is widely popular among the population it serves.
- $12 million of targeted relief for D.C. Water ratepayers. Some ratepayers have difficulty paying the increasing D.C. Water Clean Rivers Impervious Area Charge (“CRIAC”). This budget funds $6.5 million to support the newly created Clean Rivers Impervious Area Charge initiative and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
- Additional $162,000 in rent subsidies for extremely-low income and very-low income seniors who are paying more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs. This funding will help support senior renters in the District of Columbia who neither live in project-based subsidized buildings, nor receive any other type of government rental assistance, but face increased housing costs.
- Study OBGYN services in Ward 5 and the eastern portion of the District. In the last year, D.C. has faced the closure of the maternity ward at both Providence Hospital in Ward 5, as well as United Medical Center. This budget funds a study of OBGYN Services for Wards 5, 7, and 8 and the greater Eastern portion of the District to help identify and analyze the racial and ethnic disparities that affect women’s obstetrics and gynecological outcomes.
- $600,000 in funding for the Expanding Access to Justice Act. Last year, Councilmember McDuffie authored this innovative effort to reduce evictions by providing low-income tenants with lawyers as they face Landlord-Tenant Court. Experts have testified that approximately 90 percent of tenants go to Court without a lawyer, contrasted with 10 percent of landlords who are represented by attorneys. Providing tenants with legal representation will help ensure that tenants’ rights are protected and that more people can stay in their homes.
Education and Investing in Our Young People:
- Increased funding for Out of School Time activities. Recognizing the importance of afterschool or summer enrichment programs, this budget increases funding for these programs, partially through a transfer from Councilmember McDuffie’s Committee on Business and Economic Development. These funds support activities administered by Ward 5 organizations such as the Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Collaborative.
- $40 million for modernization of Browne Education Campus. Last year, Councilmember McDuffie secured $5 million in long-term funding for Browne Education Campus in Fiscal Year 2023. This budget supplements that with an additional $35 million and brings the total investment in Browne modernization to $40 million by Fiscal Year 2024.
- Childcare tax credit for parents of children up to three years old. In the spirit of a bill Councilmember McDuffie introduced last summer, the Childcare Tax Credit Act of 2017, the budget provides a tax credit of $1,000 per child for all families with children between the ages of infant to three years old enrolled with licensed childcare providers.
Addressing Root Causes of Crime and Increasing Public Safety:
- $500,000 to fund implementation of the data collection requirements under the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act (NEAR Act). The NEAR Act, authored and championed by Councilmember McDuffie, is D.C.’s innovative public health-based approach to violent crime. Based on the recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the data collection provisions of the NEAR Act will increase transparency in an effort to improve police-community relations.
- Continued implementation of the NEAR Act’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. The budget continues implementation of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement by increasing funding 122 percent and increasing staffing by 60 percent. ONSE addresses root causes of violence with strategic intervention upstream of when a situation may escalate into violence.
Committee on Business and Economic Development Budget Supports Small Businesses, Retail Corridors, and Economic Opportunity:
- Expansion of the District’s successful Main Street program. The Department of Small and Local Business Development oversees the successful Main Street program that promotes the revitalization of traditional business districts and supports retail corridors through the provision of services and grants. In addition to two new Main Street organizations in Ward 5 (Bladensburg Road and South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road NE), this budget includes funding for a new Woodley Park Main Street and Mid-City Main Street (lower 14th Street NW).
- $160,000 to fund the establishment of a Living Wage Certification Grant Program, which will create a certification for D.C. businesses that provide their employees with a living wage. This program will allow businesses to advertise that they pay their employees a living wage.
- $250,000 investment returning citizens’ entrepreneurial goals by increasing funding for the Aspire To Entrepreneurship program, which trains returning citizens through a specialized curriculum created to teach participants about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, startup basics, marketing, as well as business management and development. Since 2016, three cohorts of the Aspire program have resulted in 13 new businesses and the creation of 39 jobs.
- Nearly $3 million in funding toward equitable development by providing gap funding through the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which assists eligible mixed-use and retail development projects located in low-income communities and have a gap in funding for the commercial component of the project.
- $200,000 to fund an independent study to determine whether minority and women-owned businesses face discrimination in contracting and procurement in the District. While the CBE program is meant to support business owners from traditionally disadvantaged communities, no analysis has been done of the current state of businesses owned or controlled by minorities or women qualifying as CBEs.
- $500,000 in increased funding for the Inclusive Innovation Fund, which seeks to increase access to capital for D.C. entrepreneurs specifically underrepresented entrepreneurs such as people of color and women.
While the majority of the budget typically remains unchanged between the two Council votes, the funding listed above is not final until the second Council vote, scheduled for May 29, and the budget is signed by the Mayor.