BY LUIS GRONDA
Participatory budgeting is expanding to include a new area in southern Queens.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced the northern part of his district, which includes the four neighborhoods that make up Community Board 9, will now be included in the City’s Participatory Budgeting program beginning next year.
Participatory Budgeting allows residents of the community to vote on what capital projects in the area get allocated capital funds. There is $1 million set aside for the initiative and residents decide which projects get the money.
Ulrich has done the budgeting in the Rockaway part of his district. Last year, nine different projects in Far Rockaway and Broad Channel were allocated money, including the Broad Channel Fire Department, which received 10 percent of the funding; the Breezy Point Activity Center got 33 percent of that money and PS 114 in Belle Harbor received nine percent of that funding. More than 1,500 people voted in the process.
Ulrich said, similar to how people in the Rockaways benefited, residents in Community Board 9 will benefit from this process. He said it promotes transparency and gives residents a bit of a look behind the curtain regarding the budgeting process that elected officials deal with on a daily basis.
“I would like to give you the opportunity to tell me how that money should be spent in the community,” Ulrich said during last week’s CB9 meeting. “It’s not my money, it’s not the City’s money, it’s the taxpayer’s money, so why shouldn’t you have more of a say in how it’s being spent.”
The process for the budgeting includes having several workshops to gather ideas for what projects could get a slice of the discretionary funding and then whittling it down to decide what items will be voted on.
Ulrich said he has gotten $1 million dollars in the past for the project and may get more or less for CB9 depending on who the City Council Speaker is and how much discretionary funds he is allocated.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.