During Participatory Budgeting (PB) Week, from March 25 to April 2, residents voted online or in-person on how to spend capital funding for the upcoming 2024 city fiscal budget. The funding is usually up to $1 million per City Council district, aimed at improving neighborhoods and local infrastructure.
“New Yorkers spent months brainstorming and refining proposals to improve our communities, and now, residents will be able to vote for their favorite projects to be funded in the city budget,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams in a statement. “Participatory Budgeting empowers local residents to get involved in their communities and decide how public dollars are spent to strengthen our neighborhoods.”
This was the 12th year that the City Council used the participatory budgeting system to crowdsource community input about what to do with city funds. It was first implemented back in 2011. Previous rounds of voting resulted in $100,000 for extended sidewalk curbs by P.S. 159 and P.S. 51 in the Bronx, $600,000 for better lighting in parks at NYCHA’s Elliott-Chelsea Houses and Fulton Houses in Manhattan, and $500,000 for basketball court repairs at the Queens Beach 9th Street Playground.
“Participatory Budgeting empowers communities to take an active role in shaping their neighborhoods and makes sure their voices are heard,” said Councilmember Rita Joseph in a statement. “It’s a great, grassroots way to get folks of all ages and backgrounds civically engaged.”
Councilmember Pierina Sanchez said in a statement that government officials should always work to increase civic participation and transparency. She said she was proud, as a first-time councilmember, to participate.
“We are continuing the tradition this year, with nominated initiatives aimed at improving quality of life for all residents, particularly our seniors and youth; increasing access to healthy foods; expanding technological capabilities of our libraries and schools; and even creating a hydroponic lab for our students,” said Sanchez.
This year, similar projects and proposals were on the ballot, with ideas that were generated by city agencies, council members, neighborhood assemblies, and budget delegate meetings held last fall and winter.
“Participatory Budgeting is a great initiative for New Yorkers to tangibly improve their neighborhoods and have their voices heard,” said Councilmember Farah Louis in a statement. “This program is a unique opportunity to participate in direct democracy where New Yorkers vote on capital projects for their districts.”
The process is technically voluntary, so each council member had to opt in to participate. This year, 29 districts from Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn joined in.
Council districts included in the vote were 1–3, 5–7, 10, 12–14, 16, 18, 22, 23, 25–29, 33–40, 42, and 45.
Voters can visit council.nyc.gov/PB to see the results of the vote in May when proposals are finalized.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.