- Participatory Budgeting: What's the Potential?
Participatory Budgeting: Catch the Fever!
executive editor and publisher, City Limits
Columbia University's Peter Marcuse sent in this response:
Participatory Budgeting is a great idea, and the extraordinary volunteer work that has gone into promoting it tus far has been richly rewarding by its active reception and expansion.
Sondra Youdelman’s call for continued expansion is right on. Important as it is, both as a model and dealing with many, many, worthwhile projects, it’s a small amount compared to the total budgetary expenditures of the city – maybe around 4% of the capital budget, if compared to the total expense budget, maybe .4%. Very well worth doing, but going deeper vertically, as well as wider horizontally, could also be tremendously important. How about:
Applying it to each council member’s discretionary expense budget also? Most Community Boards regularly host sessions on expense as well as capital budgets for their board areas; they might be integrated into a participatory budgeting process.
Integrating it with the Community Board’s role in the general budgeting process, particularly important for expense items, since most city agencies use community board boundaries to plan their activities?
Moving towards applying it to the full city budget, both capital and expense? Couldn’t Neighborhood Assemblies, Delegate Meetings, and Community Votes in each district also look at the city-wide budget, with some aggregation of results publicized to inform Council and Mayoral positions on the budget, if only in an advisory capacity?
Creating broader levels on involvement, perhaps at a borough level, perhaps Borough delegate meetings, be an effective way to democratize participation? Wouldn’t, ultimately, giving an expanded formal legal role to the participatory budgeting process both by district and in the city-wide budgetary process, perhaps akin to that which the Community Boards might have if their votes ere of formal effect, and integrated with the City Planning Commission’s old role in city-wide budgeting?
Looking towards a revision of the City Charter that would inscribe participatory budgeting into its provisions, solidifying the many verbal expressions of approval of the process?
Much has been accomplished; it’s a great base for even more!
I believe we had 3 problems in our PB experience last year. The first was the feeling that it pitted one needy group against another...not a very community-building feeling (folks involved vehemently denied this was so). The second major problem was that many voters had no idea what they were voting for and thus went for the knee-jerk - more police (in the form of $600,000 worth of NYPD cameras that added to the ones we already have that have never solved a crime). The third problem was a mentality among some folks that there was money that needed to be spent and what can we find to spend it on. I propose several changes for this year - 1. Don't submit what you want money for, instead what is the community NEED that you want to address. 2. Have a working group organize the requests and prioritize them in terms of time-sensitivity and other ways to address those needs without these funds - in essence list just about everything that is a valid need (some items might be able to be rolled over to the next year). 3. Have voters vote yes or no on the entire list and have an approval rating higher than 51%. And 4. Have submitters fill out a template form for power point to create an equal playing field for all submissions...
ARCHIVESVIEW FULL ARCHIVE
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The Race for Governor, Part 1
Policing the Subway
The Lessons of a Shelter Stint
NYC's Job Market: Recovery Incomplete
Gun Control: Beyond NY
Eyewitness Testimony: How Reliable is It?
How to Solve the City's Jails
Child Poverty: Good News, Big Challenges
Murder, Media and Culture
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