FY 2019: Advocacy is not over once the budget is signed
Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019, FY19) started October 1. As is always the case, some laws, policies, programs, and taxes change from one year to the next.
Several of the FY 2019 changes of greatest interest to APACC include housing, business development in high-unemployment areas, and health and well-being (Mayor Bowser Rolls Out Fair Shot Investments and DHCD Makes Across-the-Board Budget Cuts to Housing Counseling Providers); well-being related taxes (repeal of the so-called tampon tax and Here's What Taxes Are Going Up In D.C. Today); and improvements to the Anacostia River (Investments in the Anacostia River in DC’s FY19 Budget).
Vigilance is required during budget implementation
Action on the budget is not done when the mayor signs it. To the contrary, once the fiscal year starts, the work is focused on making sure agencies implement the budget.
Washington City Paper’s Morgan Baskin investigated the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood Based Activities portion of the budget and found that DHCD cut contractors equally rather than based on performance. Self-declared high performers Latino Economic Development Center and Housing Counseling Services assert, for instance, took the same 28% funding cut that other, perhaps not high performing, organizations did.
Some nonprofits are upset now not about the cut itself but the way the cut was implemented. Writes Baskin about the Housing Counseling Services’ perspective,
Though [Marian] Siegel says she was aware during the budget negotiation last spring that DHCD was weighing cuts to community-based organizations, “we were assured that high-performing agencies wouldn’t see the cut. Instead they did across the board. We’re high-performing. We had lots of conversations with DHCD staff, lots of conversations with partners … we were kind of assured that we’d be able to continue serving. And we weren’t not nervous, but we were less nervous,” she says. Siegel adds that a DHCD official told her the money cut from D.C.'s CBOs would go to the redevelopment of Water Reed; a spokesperson for DHCD did not provide a comment by press time.
Cleaning up Kenilworth Park
APACC member Anacostia Waterfront Trust is also monitoring the amount of the DC budget dedicated to cleaning up Kenilworth Park . Currently, there is no budget in FY 2019 for the cleanup of the National Park Service-controlled Kenilworth Park, which will eventually be transferred to the District.
The cost of cleaning up the park will be split between the National Park Service and the District. Most likely the National Park Service will request the District to pay for the remediation up front, with guaranteed reimbursement from NPS. There is not yet a proposed plan for remediation of the site (although NPS has been working actively on developing it and will present about it at an open house next week), nor is there an agreement on how much DC needs to pay, in this fiscal year or in future years.
We will be tracking this issue going forward, as Kenilworth Park is an important asset for the neighborhoods nearby and could be much more of a resource for Ward 7 and the DC region than it is today. APACC has begun working with District agencies to engage with members of the Kenilworth community and other nearby areas to determine an appropriate way to prioritize investment in the space and to honor the memory of Kelvin Tryone Mock, who was died in the landfill beneath Kenilworth Park fifty years ago in 1968.
APACC’s actions going forward
APACC will be paying particular attention to the DC government’s work on Kenilworth Park and resident and stakeholder outreach and engagement around environmental and community development. We believe that meaningful engagement of residents and other stakeholders is an essential element of public policy development and implementation.
We will do more during oversight hearings early next year, including suggesting specific ways DC government agency can learn from one another, and we will post updates about our efforts here on our blog and on Twitter (@anacostiarivpk).