About the New York City Process
In 2011, four New York City Council Members - Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, and Jumaane D. Williams - launched a PB process to let residents allocate part of their capital discretionary funds. This year, nearly half of the City Council Members have joined the process, giving the community real decision-making power over at least $25 million in taxpayer money across twenty-three districts.
Between September 2014 and April 2015, residents of participating districts will directly decide how to spend at least $1 million of their Council Member’s funds – for a total of approximately $25 million. For more information on how to get involved in this year's PB process, visit the New York City Council's website.
Participatory budgeting is grassroots democracy at its best. It helps make budget decisions clear and accessible. It gives real power to people who have never before been involved in the political process. And it results in better budget decisions - because who better knows the needs of our community than the people who live there?
Participating Council Members:
- Andrew Cohen (District 11, Bronx)
- Julissa Ferreras (District 21, Queens)
- David Greenfield (District 44, Brooklyn)
- Corey Johnson (District 3, Manhattan)
- Ben Kallos (District 5, Manhattan)
- Karen Koslowitz (District 29, Queens)
- Brad Lander (District 39, Brooklyn)
- Steve Levin (District 33, Brooklyn)
- Mark Levine (District 7, Manhattan)
- Melissa Mark-Viverito (District 8, Manhattan/Bronx)
- Carlos Menchaca (District 38, Brooklyn)
- Daneek Miller (District 27, Queens)
- Antonio Reynoso (District 34, Brooklyn/Queens)
- Donovan Richards (District 31, Queens)
- Ydanis Rodriguez (District 10, Manhattan)
- Helen Rosenthal (District 6, Manhattan)
- Ritchie Torres (District 15, Bronx)
- Mark Treyger (District 47, Brooklyn)
- Eric Ulrich (District 32, Queens)
- Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens)
- Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26, Queens)
- Mark Weprin (District 23, Queens)
- Jumaane Williams (District 45, Brooklyn)
There are lots of benefits to conducting participatory budgeting, but in New York we especially hope it will help us move towards three core goals in our community:
We aim to include everyone in the community - especially those who are often excluded from the political process, who face obstacles to participating, or who feel disillusioned with politics. By making every effort to actively engage these communities and reduce obstacles to participation, we hope to prevent the ‘usual suspects’ or groups with more resources from dominating, and to generate spending decisions that are fairer and better reflect the entire community’s needs.
We aim for every person to have equal power over public spending – one person, one vote. Giving each community member the same power to propose and vote on spending ideas makes governance more democratic.
We aim to empower and strengthen our communities and the individuals within them through education and skill building, and by giving people real decision-making power. By building community power to make budget decisions and to shape the budget process, we hope to develop new leaders and inspire people to work together to improve the community.
We also hope that PB will have other benefits for the community: inspiring greater civic participation, building community, educating and empowering residents, increasing transparency in government, and leading to better budget decisions - spending that is more responsible and efficient, and that results in more sustainable and livable neighborhoods.
The PB process involves a series of meetings that feed into the city’s annual budget cycle. For 2014-2015 the process starts in September 2014 and continues into 2015.
Neighborhood Assemblies: September - October 2014
At public meetings in each district, community members learn about PB and discuss their community’s needs. They then brainstorm project ideas and select budget delegates.
Delegate Orientations: November 2014
Delegates selected at the assemblies learn about the budget process, project development, and key spending areas, then form committees.
Delegate Meetings: November 2014 - February 2015
Delegates meet in committees to transform the community’s initial project ideas into full proposals, with support from Council Member staff and other experts.
Project Expos: February-March 2015
Delegates present draft project proposals to the community and get feedback, with which they revise the projects.
Community Vote: March-April 2015
Delegates present the final project proposals and residents vote on which projects to fund.
Implementation & Monitoring: April 2015 onwards
The Council Members submit their spending priorities to the City Council, including the winning PB projects. Community members evaluate the process, and oversee the implementation of projects.
Research and Evaluation happens throughout these stages, to improve the process for next year!
Hundreds of organizations and individuals across the city are working together to make PBNYC a success.
At the city level, the participating Council Members are working with The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) as the technical assistance lead and Community Voices Heard (CVH) as the community engagement lead. A City-wide Steering Committee - consisting of organizations and institutions committed to improving city spaces and governance - is also helping to coordinate the initiative.
In each district, local organizations and community leaders have formed PB District Committees to drive the process forward.