Sections

What the fund!? Marine Park legislator inexplicably has Council’s highest budget

Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

They can’t account for this one.

Marine Park’s councilman has the highest budget for staff salaries and rent in the entire Council, but neither he nor the council speaker, who sets the budgets, can explain why. Councilman Alan Maisel’s office gets $489,000 for staff and rent — $80,000 more than the standard Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito created in February, according to materials obtained by Gotham Gazette and shared with this paper.

The speaker gave most operations $409,000 but doled out more to a handful of leaders, such as the finance chair and majority leader, to fund their busier-than-average offices. But Maisel — who was elected in 2014 — managed more than any of the power brokers. He told Gotham Gazette he “had no idea” why he got the most money, but he told this paper he just asked for it.

“I asked the speaker for additional money for staff for salaries,” Maisel said.

The Speaker’s office refused to explain the disparity and repeatedly insisted Mark-Viverito is leveling the budgetary playing field.

“The budgets of all the members were increased this year,” her office said in a statement. “The speaker has taken unprecedented steps to equalize and increase member budgets across the board. The speaker retains the discretion to provide additional resources in limited circumstan­ces.”

Mark-Viverito standardized office operating budgets ahead of Council members’ February decision to give themselves raises. She awarded $479,000 — $70,000 extra — to finance committee chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D–Queens), land use committee chairman David Greenfield (D–Midwood), and majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) because of their offices’ heightened responsibilities. She gave Councilman Donovan Richards (D–Queens) $454,000, because he runs two district offices, according to the Gazette.

Maisel said he employs “seven or eight” people — the council average — in his Mill Basin storefront, where retail rent is among Brooklyn’s lowest, according to a 2015 CPEX Real Estate report.

Maisel’s chief of staff retired last month, and he plans to distribute her roughly $85,000 salary among other staffers, he said.

Office budgets do not roll over, so any money left at the end of the fiscal year goes back into the city’s general fund, a spokeswoman said. Maisel got the most last year at $462,618 — $10,000 more than the second-highest funded office that year, fiscal documents show.

Council members are paid separately.

Maisel spends the office budget on the same things other legislators do — he just gets a little more, he said.

“Rent and telephones and electricity and copy machines and all the things that everybody else spends their money on,” the standards and ethics committee chairman said. “Other than the fact that the speaker chose to give me more money.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:


Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: