Local Pol Commends “Revolutionary” Participatory Budgeting Process

Source: Mattes via Wikimedia Commons

In its second year of operation, a practice called participatory budgeting  has doubled in size with even more council members, community organizations and citizens taking on leadership roles.

Among the advocates for participatory budgeting is Councilman David Greenfield who announced recently that he will be bringing the groundbreaking participatory budgeting process to his district. That brings the total district New York-wide participation to eight, four up from last year.

Participatory budgeting lets New Yorkers directly decide how to spend millions of capital budgeting funds provided by their local council member. New York City has the largest participatory budgeting program in America. With four additional Council Members participating, 1.3 million New Yorkers will now be able to directly decide how to spend some of their tax dollars on projects in their neighborhoods.

“Residents know what types of projects are most needed in their neighborhood, and participatory budgeting gives them a real voice in determining how their tax dollars are spent. I am proud to take part in an effort that brings the power directly to the taxpayers and brings greater transparency to the budgeting process,” said Greenfield in a release.

Through the first cycle of participatory budgeting, over 2,000 residents came together in 27 public meetings during the fall and winter to discuss local priorities and design specific infrastructure projects, which more than 6,000 New Yorkers ultimately voted on in March 2012.

A selection of projects that received funding through the participatory budgeting process last year included:

  • $150,000 for the E-Tech Campus for CAMBA Beacon Program at P.S. 269
  • $80,000 for new books and equipment for the Kensington, Brooklyn public library to enhance the branch’s use for meetings, storytelling, rehearsals, and small performances promoting Kensington’s cultural diversity
  • $100,000 for transportation for seniors and a Meals-on-Wheels delivery van in East Harlem
  • $147,000 for a water pump, pagers, and an oxygen refill system for volunteer fire departments in the Far Rockaways

“Already, the success of participatory budgeting in New York City is inspiring similar processes elsewhere, in cites such as Chicago and Vallejo, California. PBNYC has become an international model for real grassroots democracy,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization The Participatory Budgeting Project, the lead technical assistance partner for PBNYC.

The schedule for public meetings has not been established yet, however, citizens are encouraged to contact Greenfield’s office and ask about this new approach to earmarked spending.