BY LUIS GRONDA
Although much of Councilman Eric Ulrich’s (R-Ozone Park) district will vote on participatory budget items next month, there is one portion of his district that is noticeably left out.
Community Board 10, which includes Howard Beach and Lindenwood, is not included in the budgeting intitative, which lets residents vote on allocating $1 million dollars on community projects via discretionary funding.
Ulrich and Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) split the area that covers CB 10 almost in half, with Ulrich having Howard Beach, Lindenwood and parts of Ozone Park and Richmond Hill. Wills has South Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.
Ulrich has been doing Participatory Budgeting in other areas of his district, including Rockaway and the CB 9 area that includes parts of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.
Wills has been in legal trouble. He was arrested last month for allegedly filing fake reports with the City’s Conflicts of Interests Board, and he was arrested last year for allegedly using campaign funds to buy personal items.
Following last year’s arrest, Wills had control of his discretionary funds taken away and it is now in control of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan/Bronx).
Betty Braton, chairwoman of CB10, said that she has not heard any discussion or anything to do with Participatory Budgeting, but it is “certainly plausible” that Wills’ legal troubles could be the reason for not having Participatory Budgeting in the board.
“That’s the Councilman’s prerogative on how he distributes participatory budgeting. The board plays no role in that,” she said, referring to Ulrich. “If he decides to involve any part of CB 10, we will certainly cooperate with them.”
Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach/Lindenwood Civic Association, said Ulrich works very closely with all the different groups in Howard Beach and the other parts of his district.
“He’s very fair when it comes to spreading his discretionary funding,” Ariola said. “We certainly don’t feel slighted because we don’t have participatory budgeting yet.”
Redmond Haskins, Ulrich’s spokesperson, said they would like to expand Participatory Budgeting to areas in CB 10 for next year, but it is too early to say right now.
“Since entering office, Councilman Ulrich has worked with the neighborhoods of Community Board 10 in an inclusive way to allocate millions of dollars for important local capital projects,” he said in an email.
Wills’ office did not respond to requests for comment about participatory budgeting.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.