By Carol Tannenhauser
It’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) time again. Confused about what that means? No disrespect meant, but think of it as a game.
Your Council Member (should they choose to participate) — in District 6, Gale Brewer, who did — has a minimum of $1,000,000 in their PB pot.
The first step is for members of the community to submit ideas for capital-improvement projects in the neighborhood: infrastructure items, like playgrounds, dog runs, and benches, as well as technology for schools, such as laptops.
“Qualifying projects must cost at least $50,000 and have a lifespan of at least five years,” Council Member Brewer’s spokesperson told us. “Funds for this program can be used for physical improvements that benefit the public.”
- The window to submit ideas is September 12 through November 11. Ideas can be submitted at Council Member Brewer’s District Office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (87-88), or online at: http://ideas.pbnyc.org/page/about.
Next comes the proposal-development phase, when volunteers join “delegate committees” to develop the ideas that are submitted into “project proposals,” and work with city agencies to estimate project costs. Delegates narrow down proposals and select projects that best meet the needs of the community.
- The proposal development phase will take place from October to January.
Once proposals have been determined, Budget Delegates and residents get out the vote and prepare for a nine-day community vote. (Make no mistake about it, electioneering is a big part of the game.)
- This year, the vote will take place March/April.
Winning projects are included in New York City’s upcoming fiscal-year budget. Staff and stakeholders evaluate the process and oversee the implementation of winning projects by agencies.
It’s easy to conceptualize Participatory Budgeting as a game, but the “prizes” are very real. In 2021, participatory budgeting paid for:
1. Security Cameras on Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, & Riverside Drive: 672 Votes, $320,000 to install eight security cameras on Broadway, Amsterdam, Columbus, and Riverside Drive to deter crime and and ensure public safety. Locations determined in consultation with NYPD.
2. Jessie Isadore Straus School Infrastructure Improvements (P.S. 199, grades K-5, 270 W. 70th St.): 617 votes, $300,000 to upgrade & repair 2 existing student restrooms (replace fixtures, stalls, floor/wall tiling, ADA accessibility).
3. Greening Broadway: Trees & Tree Guards on Broadway above 72nd Street: 592 Votes, $250,000 to install approximately 35 trees & tree guards on the sidewalks along Broadway. This would make the avenue a more attractive destination, is environmentally sound, & offers additional shade.
4. Center School Technology Grant (M.S. 243, grades 5-8, 100 W. 84th St.): 578 votes, $117,000 to purchase 12 Promethean Boards & 30 laptops with 1 laptop cart to ensure each classroom has a smart board & laptops that are connected to the smart boards. This project will ensure that the school has technology deployed to the classrooms to support an enriched & interactive learning experience.
Turn your ideas into reality! Again, the deadline for idea submissions is November 11. Ideas can be submitted at Council Member Brewer’s District Office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (87-88), or online at: http://ideas.pbnyc.org/page/about.
We’ll keep you posted.
Nothing should be used for schools. That does not help the overall community that everyone can use. School infrastructure should be included in the main budget.
Agree. This money should be used for the general population’s benefit, People are absolutely freaking out about safety since the lockdown/rise in crime – perhaps all the money should be used for that. or for pest eradication, people are also completely freaked out about rats.
Making sure children have a proper education absolutely benefits the community. As is taking care of the elderly. Despite having no living parents anymore, I would absolutely support a grant that benefits an assisted living facility, for example.
Proper education and funding for well-to-do schools with good PTA have nothing to do with each other. These schools are excellent and have a lot of money coming in as it is. Don’t be fools that if every time the word “school” is mentioned , you are helping eduction.
However, not performing schools need help. As a parent of a “good” school child, I see the huge disparity between “bad” and “good” schools. The difference is parent involvement. That could only be replaced by afterschool programs and tutoring. If somehow the afterschool tutoring for non-performing students can be included in this budget, I’m all for it. That would make a difference. Not dance devices for already rich schools.
Perhaps people should ask why security cameras cost 40K each.
It’s nothing but another way to buy votes. I’m glad the various organizations get the money for their projects but that really isn’t the way tax money should be spent or government priorities spent.
For goodness sake streets on the UWS flood because the City doesn’t bother to clean out the drains or hold developers accountable for the concrete slurry they allow to drain in to our storm drains.
This is a circus to distract from our politicians being unable to execute basic urban management tasks without blowing through the largest municipal budget in the country.
Of course we have the largest municipal budget in the country – we are the largest municipality in the country! And yes, let’s lament a plan that allows the public to take part rather than leave all the choices to bureaucrats. How dare we!
per capita. No other city comes close to what gets spent here
God helps those who help themselves. I am not a huge fan of this process even though entities that are very important to me have benefitted from it. That being said, it is an opportunity for groups to mobilize and get money for programs that are important to them. Gale Brewer has done her best to publicize this.
A lot of the money tends to flow to wealthier schools and areas of the district. But there is nothing to stop others from organizing and getting things done. If they don’t, they have no one to complain to.
$1,000,000 to a PAC supporting candidates who oppose ‘no cash bail’, and who are committed to meaning, actual, REAL crime reduction and enhanced quality of life issues on the UWS.
I’m a parent or a middle-schooler. I’m absolutely against grants for schools especially Central School. These schools have a very strong PTA, raise lots of money. Being shrewd as they are, they jumped on this as well. Just because other schools PTAs are inept, we can’t let this happen.
We have other major priorities without any funding other than this.