Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and New York City Council Announce Expansion of Participatory Budgeting for 2014-2015 Cycle

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PBNYC press conf 7.2014

THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
July 23, 2014

22 districts will participate in next cycle to designate over $25 million

City Hall—Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council announced the expansion of participatory budgeting to 22 districts that will designate over $25 million toward locally-developed projects, proposals, and initiatives in the next budgetary cycle.  The expansion more than doubles the number of participating districts and represents a nearly 80% increase in funding allocated for participatory budgeting from the previous fiscal year.

“Participatory budgeting is a gateway to greater civic participation and leadership in our communities, encouraging collaboration between residents and local elected officials to find creative solutions to neighborhood needs,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “As we work toward a more inclusive, transparent city government, I am excited for 22 Council districts to take part in the participatory budgeting—more than doubling our participation from the previous cycle. This expanded process will give thousands of New Yorkers a hands-on role in making taxpayer dollars work for our communities.”

Participatory budgeting is a grassroots process through which district residents vote directly to allocate at least $1 million in capital funding toward proposals developed by the community to meet local needs.  Through a series public meetings, residents work with elected officials for a year to identify neighborhood concerns and craft proposals to address them. Residents then decide which proposals to fund through a public vote.

Good government groups hail participatory budgeting as a powerful tool to increase civic participation and community engagement. The only identification requirement is proof of residency in the district; voting in participatory budgeting is open to all residents 16 years of age and older, removing traditional obstacles to full civic participation such as youth, income status, English-language proficiency and citizenship status.

Learn more about Participatory Budgeting and how you can get involved at http://council.nyc.gov/html/action/pb.shtml

For the 2014-2015 cycle, the following Council Members are conducting a participatory budgeting process in their districts:

“The expansion of Participatory Budgeting to 22 districts in the City is a testament to the Council’s commitment to empowering New Yorkers and giving them the ability to decide where their tax dollars are spent,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “For the first time in Western Queens we will give the residents of the 26th District the ability to fund projects that are meaningful to their communities. I am proud to be a part of this historic expansion of Participatory Budgeting.  The growth of this inclusive process helps build a better informed, and empowered citizenry which will make our City’s democracy stronger. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council and New Yorkers who will be participating in this process. Together, we will empower our communities and deliver the projects local residents vote to fund in their neighborhoods.”

“After last year’s incredibly successful Participatory Budgeting process in the 38th District, with the highest number of participants in the City, it is my pleasure to re-launch this program for the coming budget cycle!” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “I will again be allocating a full $2 million dollars to capital projects proposed, and voted on by community members that focus on the improvement of local schools, streets, parks, and libraries. This process is central to the civic engagement of our residents, and I am looking forward to my continued involvement with local stakeholders, and with my Council colleagues to secure the success of PB, and to expand this model in a meaningful way.”

“I am pleased to join my Council colleagues and have always planned on carrying out an effective and well organized participatory budgeting process that engages a wide range of residents of my district,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “I look forward to engaging and working with my community in the coming months to have participatory budgeting that is successful and productive.”

“My constituents have loved the opportunity to vote on how their tax dollars are spent,” said Council Member Mark Weprin. “I am pleased that so many of my colleagues in the City Council have embraced the participatory budgeting process, as it allows residents to play an active role in their government.”

“Participatory Budgeting has put budgetary decisions directly into the hands of the people and I am excited to see it expand throughout New York City,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I was proud to bring Participatory Budgeting to the 33rd District two years ago and I continue to hear from constituents about how much they enjoy being involved in determining which capital projects get funded in our District. We have all worked hard to make Participatory Budgeting a success and I look forward to seeing this transparent and democratic budgeting process continue to grow under the leadership of Speaker Mark-Viverito.”

“I was proud to be the first elected official from Queens to give my constituents a real say in how their money is being spent and I’m thrilled that my colleagues will be expanding participatory budgeting throughout the five boroughs,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich.  “This will provide a real chance for anyone who wants to have a voice in the decision-making process or has an idea for a project that would benefit the community, to step up and get involved. As I have always said, this isn’t my money, it is the taxpayers’ money and they should be allowed a say in how it’s spent.”

“Participatory budgeting is an exciting tool of empowerment the East Flatbush community has engaged in for the past three years,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “It brings government closer to the people, and provides an open form of democracy that continues to gain momentum. I look forward to it expanding throughout the city, so that more New Yorkers can get engaged in the design and selection of capital projects that better their district.”

“I am proud to be bringing participatory budgeting to constituents in the Central Bronx. Local residents know what their community needs and should be directly involved in decisions around how their tax dollars are spent.” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “It’s also through processes like participatory budgeting that we deepen the engagement of residents in our districts and cultivate effective civic leaders.”

“A new form of democracy is sweeping New York City, and I am proud that the City Council is taking the lead in growing this process,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “I’m beyond excited to bring Participatory Budgeting back to my district this year. There is nothing like allowing the public to make decisions on how their community schools, parks, etc., should be improved.”

“When thousands of people get involved through participatory budgeting in making hands-on decisions about what our neighborhoods need, it models government as shared stewardship, in which we work together to tend the common good,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I am very proud that the process has grown from just four participating Councilmembers to 22 – not bad for an idea that people dismissed as crazy just a short time ago.  Participatory budgeting is a growing movement that is changing the way New Yorkers engage with their government: improving transparency, increasing voters’ say in how their money is spent and bringing neighbors together to be stewards of the public realm.”

“I congratulate Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and many of my colleagues for prioritizing the expansion of participatory budgeting in the FY16 budget, continuing successful efforts to get the program off the ground in NYC,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Participatory budgeting gives people real decision-making power and empowers communities through the democratic process. I’m proud to join this growing movement by bringing participatory budgeting to Council District 7 this year, where we’ve already seen a huge outpouring of interest and ideas for projects to better our neighborhoods.”

“I am proud to join a growing list of my council colleagues who have made the commitment to participate in a progressive way of allocating fund,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. Participatory budgeting gives a direct voice to the residents of our districts and it is our job as their representatives to honor that voice. I look forward to a productive and engaging conversation with my constituents during this process of community empowerment.”

“This is a historic chance for residents across New York City to have a key role in deciding how their tax dollars are reinvested in their community,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “I am proud to provide this great opportunity for community involvement in my district for the first time ever and to make sure that residents finally have a real voice in the budgeting process. I have no doubt that my constituents will use this unique chance to improve the quality of life throughout Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and Sea Gate for years to come.”

“I am excited to bring PB to the 34th District this year,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “My community is very creative, and I’ve heard lots of great ideas from my constituents already.  I am looking forward to seeing how they decide to spend a million dollars.”

“I am thrilled to be partaking in Participatory Budgeting for the 2015-2016 budget cycle,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “This innovative process will give my neighbors a direct voice in how their tax dollars are spent on projects that will address community needs.  It is my hope that through this process, we will be able to give City residents more confidence in government and increase civic engagement.  The more participation and higher turnout we have will ensure that our communities will benefit in the long run.  I am looking forward to further implementing this practice and hearing all of the terrific ideas that my neighbors will propose.”

“Participatory Budgeting and Upper West Side involvement go hand-in-hand,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.  “The community is hungry to participate in this democratic process to identify and select projects for funding.”

“There is no greater vehicle galvanizing communities today than participatory budgeting,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “It enables individuals to work together for common causes that will have a lasting impact on community needs. We have seen it in action already, members from across neighborhoods working side by side in harmony. I am proud to have begun the participatory budgeting process in my district this year and thank the Speaker for her assistance in getting this expansion off the ground.”

“The expansion of participatory budgeting (PB) to 22 council districts, and the institutionalization of the process in the City Council as a new way to govern, is truly exciting and a tribute to the success of the early cycles,” said Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard. “Community Voices Heard is proud to have helped spearhead this process with Council Members, community organizations, and local residents.  Looking forward, PB has the potential to engage new and diverse groups of people – including those typically most disenfranchised – more deeply in their communities and in the practice of governing.  We’re anxious to see more people involved in the process and community power grow to influence more pots of money over time.”

“Participatory Budgeting in New York City is the largest and fastest growing such program in the country,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of Participatory Budgeting Project. “It has become an international model for real grassroots democracy, and for making city government more responsive to the people. We look forward to continuing to work with the Speaker and other city officials to take participatory budgeting to the next level.”

“The data that we have collected over the past three years shows that participatory budgeting is a gateway to civic engagement for New Yorkers that are often left out of politics and government such as youth, immigrants, and low-income people,” said Alexa Kasdan, Director of Research and Policy at the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center. “With the expansion of PB in 2014-15, the Speaker and the NYC Council are creating even more opportunities for civic participation for the most disenfranchised New Yorkers.”

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