Foggy Bottom’s council member helps shape city budget

Foggy Bottom’s D.C. Council representative, Jack Evans, said Mayor Vincent Gray included many issues he has advocated for in his annual budget proposal. Hatchet File Photo

The budget proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray this week included multiple suggestions from Foggy Bottom’s representative, who has given the plan his nod of approval.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans said he met with Gray multiple times leading up to his presentation, stressing funding for public libraries to stay open seven days a week.

Gray’s budget, which he announced Monday, set aside $8 million for extended hours and $2 million for new books in D.C. libraries. Evans said he has introduced legislation to expand library hours across the city for years.

The fiscal year 2014 plan would also pump $103 million into improving the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, near Metro Center, which Evans said has “fallen into terrible disrepair.”

“Libraries are a real community facilities used by lots and lots of kids, and to have them closed on Sunday – one of two days kids are out of school – doesn’t make sense at all,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

He added that Gray has also allocated funding for 200 more police officers. The budget would provide $7.2 million for the Metropolitan Police Department and $8 million for D.C. Fire and Emergency Services.

Evans, the longest-serving D.C. Council member, said the number of uniformed officers has declined since he first entered office in 1991 – to about 3,800 from about 5,000 in the 1990s. He introduced a bill in 2011 that would set the minimum number of officers at 4,000, which he said would coincide with a growing city.

The D.C. population climbed from about 600,000 in 2010 to about 630,000 in 2012, according to Census Bureau data.

“We have many, many more tourists coming in to town, more people coming into work. We need that police force,” he said.

But the 58-year-old said he will also call for adjustments to the plan during committee hearings over the next month, such as a decrease in funding for art programs in the city. The Council will take its first of two votes May 22 on the marked-up budget.

Evans told students last October that he would again run for mayor, a post that opens up in 2014.

Gray, a GW alumnus, will hold a series of town hall meetings across D.C. to inform residents about his proposal. He will speak in Ward 2 on April 20 at the Charles Sumner School on 17th Street.

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