With Nassau County hit hard by a national recession, County Executive Tom Suozzi has proposed spending cuts to close a projected budget deficit. As part of a series of initiatives, the county executive is proposing a $4.7 million cut to the Nassau County Youth Board. Youth agencies in the county are bracing for major reductions in services they offer and some, like Mineola and Family Services, are preparing to close.
Mineola Youth and Family Services offers various services to the youth of Mineola and the surrounding communities including individual and family counseling, homework help, workshops, summer programs and other activities designed to help children.
But, as of April 1, when Suozzi's budget cuts are expected to take effect, the agency will be closed unless the funding is restored. Mineola Youth and Family Services Executive Director Christina Gallo-Balbo has enjoyed her time working in Mineola for an agency that provides services to the community. "Mineola Youth is closing its doors as of March 31," she said at a rally to restore funding to youth agencies held on Thursday at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building. "We received a termination notice from the county indicating that our contract has been terminated so it's basically a 100 percent cut. Since, we're 100 percent youth board funded, we have no recourse. We will not be in the community much longer unless the county reverses its decision."
Mineola Youth Family Services, which is located at 450 Jericho Turnpike, Suite 201 in Mineola, has been operating for 37 years and currently serves 600 children from Mineola and the surrounding areas. "I really can't even begin to tell you how many people are going to be affected, families and children who utilize our services on a daily basis," said Gallo-Balbo.
Mineola Youth and Family Services Executive Director Ed Paley points out that the services the agency offers are free of charge. There are families, that if it weren't for the agency, would have nowhere to go, he said. "You have people who have two parents working or single parents; where are their children going to go? It's unbelievable," said Paley.
Mineola Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larry Licopoli said Mineola Youth and Family Services closing would be a "huge loss" for the community. "They have been an excellent support for many of the youth in Mineola. They've been extremely helpful working with our kids, those who really benefit from their services. Their outreach has been excellent. I think it would be a huge loss for us," he said.
The Nassau County Legislature was scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss ways to close the county's estimated budget gap that is expected to come from a decrease in sales tax revenue.
Peter Levy, president of the Coalition of Nassau County Youth Services Agencies, Inc., encouraged anyone who doesn't wanted to see their youth agency cut to write to Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, 1150 Franklin Avenue, Mineola 11501.