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February 9, 2011

Re: Federal Update – President to Propose CDBG Cuts League Forms Task Force to Fight Funding Cuts

Dear Mayor:

On Saturday evening, the White House invited the leaders of the National League of Cities (NLC), the  United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), and the National Association of Counties (NACo) to participate in  a conference call to provide a “heads up” on an op-ed that was to be published in the New York Times on Sunday by Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget on cuts that would be included in the President’s FY 2012 Budget proposal, which will be formally released next Monday, February 14.  Specifically, they wanted us to know that the budget included a 7.5% cut ($300 million) in CDBG funds. The only other programs cuts that were mentioned on the phone and in the op-ed were a 50% reduction in Community Service Block Grant funds and a 25% cut in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. (See the attached op-ed “The Easy Cuts Are Behind Us” by clicking:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/opinion/06lew.html?amp.)

While we appreciated the advance notice, the local officials on the call expressed their strong disappointment with the President’s proposed reduction in CDBG funds. The three local government organizations have agreed on a strategy to protect this program, which is of fundamental importance to local governments.  This includes identifying our members who personally know members of Congress in leadership positions on the key committees with responsibility for the CDBG budget, as well as working with our members to help call all members of Congress’ attention to projects in their communities that were made possible with an investment of CDBG funding.

Following the lead of NLC, your New Jersey League of Municipalities has asked League Past President and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage and League First Vice President and Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish to co-chair a Task Force to work with our State’s Congressional Delegation to protect this crucial funding.

All agree that reducing the federal budget deficit over the next several years is vital to the country’s and our communities’ fiscal well-being. However, we also know that cuts in the CDBG program will have little real impact on that goal. Unfortunately, the converse is true for the local economies of municipalities. The impact of this cut on thousands of projects and programs at the neighborhood level, and the jobs supported by those projects, will be very real.

NLC has already made, and will continue to make, clear to the Administration that, at the very least, we will expect the President to be aggressive in supporting the CDBG budget at no less than the number he will proposed.

With this announcement, the President has indicated his commitment to budget cutting, by reducing three programs that are personally important to him. Our collective challenge now is to once again “Save CDBG”, which will require personal calls from our members to Members of Congress on the specific benefits CDBG funds have made in their cities and towns. 

In the coming days, NLC will be providing us with additional information on our collective strategy to protect this program. Out Task Force Chairs have begun to reach out to Senators Menendez and Lautenberg and to our Congressmen.

In support of our efforts to “Save CDBG” again, here is a link to a HUD website that shows the level of CDBG funding approved for communities in the several states for FY 2010:  http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/about/budget/budget10/index.cfm.

To view the excel spreadsheet with the allocations for communities in our State, click on New Jersey in the map (or our State’s name) at the bottom of the page. 

For your information:  The allocations for FY 2011 have not been finalized since Congress has yet to approve a FY 2011 budget. 

We will keep you posted on all developments.

In the meantime, we urge you to contact your Congressman and our two U.S. Senators on this crucial matter.

If you have any questions, call Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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