By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. cut its budget by 40 percent on Thursday but still plans to spend $3.2 million on administrative costs in the next year.
The LMDC's shrunken budget reflects the fact that the agency is beginning to wind down after completing major projects like the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building, said Chairman Avi Schick.
"Given where we are today, the narrowing scope of the challenges to be dealt with, what are the resources needed to meet those challenges?" Schick said Thursday.
The LMDC plans to cut about 40 percent of its staff, mostly the people who worked on the Deutsche Bank project, Schick said.
Julie Menin, an LMDC board member, objected to the budget at Thursday's meeting because it does not include a concrete plan to sunset the city-state agency.
"I cannot in good conscience approve this budget," said Menin, who is also chairwoman of Community Board 1. "I'm just not clear on the direction of where this is going."
Menin said the LMDC should not continue spending taxpayer money in perpetuity.
Schick did not respond to Menin's questions at the board meeting, but rather called for a vote on the budget. Menin was the only board member to vote against it.
The board also voted to cut the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center's budget from $15 million to $9 million. The LMCCC will work more closely with the LMDC to share administrative and communications staff and will cut its programs in fraud prevention and minority recruitment, according to budget documents.
"We'll be working harder and smarter," said Bob Harvey, executive director of the LMCCC.
Harvey said the community would not see any difference in the construction-mitigation services the agency provides.
The board unanimously approved the reductions to the LMCCC.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the LMDC approved another $2 million for Dewey and LeBoeuf, the law firm representing the LMDC in lawsuits related to the Deutsche Bank building.
The LMDC is seeking $100 million from Bovis Lend Lease, the project contractor, in connection with a 2007 fire in the building that killed two firefighters. Meanwhile, Bovis has sued the LMDC for $80 million, saying they have not earned enough money for the job.
Now that the criminal case in the fire is moving forward, Schick said he expects the civil litigation to move closer to resolution as well.