Column: Participatory budgeting is back

CMFariìas_Column
Councilmember Amanda Farías is asking her constituents how they would like to spend money earmarked for participatory budgeting.
Graphic courtesy Amanda Farías’ office

This fiscal year you have another chance to decide how $1 million of your local capital budget is spent – because my office’s second round of Participatory Budgeting (PB) has officially begun!

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process that collects ideas from the community to best learn how to improve the district. Community members can have their voices heard in their local council district’s budget process by recommending projects they want to see funded. You can propose ideas to meet local needs in your neighborhood, such as improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing and more. The only requirement is that the proposed project has a cost of $1 million or less and can be funded by capital dollars.

By participating in the idea submission process and volunteering you can change the dynamics of how projects are planned, prioritized, and implemented. Last year was the first time Council District 18 had ever had the opportunity to partake in PB- and it was a huge success! Not only did more than 900 people vote in our first of its kind Participatory Budgeting vote week, but all the projects were able to be funded. We had four projects on the ballot, all of which were selected by community volunteers. They were:

  • Increase students’ access to technology at P.S. 17x & Comp Sci High (749 votes).
  • Upkeep and beautification of Pugsley Creek Park (432 votes).
  • Upkeep and beautification of Clason Point Park (432 votes).
  • Auditorium upgrade at Blueprint Middle School (358 votes)

These four projects were under $1 million in funding and because of the great participation we saw — I fully funded each project. Through Participatory Budgeting our office was able to deliver investments where our community needed it most, because of the volunteers and advocates who informed us of these needs and the community members who voted for them.

Participatory Budgeting is a nine-month process with four different stages: 1) idea collection and volunteer recruitment; 2) idea submission to agencies and PB ballot creation; 3) final project and ballot approval; and finally, 4) community members vote on these projects with a week-long vote in April. Once the votes have been counted, then I as the council member review what the community has chosen and make my decision on what to fund in my next year’s budget.

Do you have an idea what you want to see considered for funding? Make sure to submit it before the end of October. You can visit my website at https://council.nyc.gov/district-18/resources for all the information you need on Participatory Budgeting.

To stay the most up to date with the Participatory Budgeting process you can follow me on social media or join my newsletter.

If you prefer to submit your idea in person, we have several general assemblies happening around the community. See them here:

  • Sept. 28, 6-7 p.m.: Kips Bay Castle Hill Center
  • Oct. 4, 6-7 p.m.: R.A.I.N Parkchester
  • Oct. 12, 6-7 p.m.: Shorehaven Clubhouse

Amanda Farías is the councilmember for the 18th District, representing parts of Castle Hill, Clason Point, Harding Park, Parkchester, Shorehaven and Soundview. To read her previous column, click here.

This story was updated at 5:16 p.m. on Sept. 28. 

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