To the Editor:
I invite the community to participate in a unique experiment in . This year, I am allocating one million dollars in capital funds for the community to decide how to spend based on local priority needs. The people of the 23rd City Council District in Eastern Queens will meet, discuss neighborhood needs, propose projects and ultimately vote on how a portion of their tax dollars are spent. Local projects will be on a ballot and the highest vote getters will be funded with up to one million dollars in capital funds.
All of this is happening because I am one of eight City Council Members, including three in Queens, who have joined a pilot program called Participatory Budgeting (PB). Here is how PB will open the budgeting process to public engagement over the coming months: In September there will be several neighborhood assemblies at which participants will learn about the city budget, discuss local needs, and brainstorm project ideas.
Those who are interested in taking an active role in PB will volunteer to be budget delegates. Delegates will go through an orientation and then meet from November to February to transform the community's initial project ideas into full proposals. From February to March, the delegates will participate in a series of project presentations at which they will share detailed proposals with the community and receive feedback.
By April, eligible projects will be on a ballot and district residents will vote on the projects they want to see funded. The projects that receive the most votes, up to $1 million, will be in the budget that the City Council passes in June.
Last year, funded projects in other areas of the city included technology upgrades for schools, delivery vans for Meals on Wheels, improvements to a local playground and the renovation of a public library. PB will give community members a say. If you want to participate, please attend one of the neighborhood assemblies in September and feel free to contact my office to learn more.