Participatory Budget Voting Starts This Week

It’s Participatory Budget voting week! Eight districts throughout New York City are participating, all of which you can see here. In Brooklyn, those districts are 33, 39, 44 and 45. Anyone who lives within the district and is 16 years of age or older can vote; the voting locations, days, and the ballots are listed here. Voters can choose up to five projects that have been selected by community residents during a year-long process. Each district has allocated at least $1 million to fund a number of the most popular projects. In total, about $10 million will be allocated through the Participatory Budgeting vote. Above, a video of last year’s voting process by Council Member Brad Lander, who spearheaded the participatory budgeting vote in Brooklyn last year. Since then Participatory Budgeting has doubled in size, with eight Council Members participating, who represent over one million New Yorkers.
PBNYC Voting — April 1-7, 2013 [Participatory Budgeting in NYC]

3 Comment

  • I really think that we need to slow down with participatory budgeting. There are some real serious problems that need to be address, some of which i have outlined:

    1. there is a fairness issue — who has access to submission, has the outreach been fair, are there groups and individuals (mostly poor and unconnected) who dont have access to a project
    2. turnout. Last year in District 39, 4% of total district voted and the top project got less than 1% of vote. An organized project can stuff the ballot even if not the most important issue
    3. who are the delegates helping to shepard projects?
    4. WHo is providing independent oversight of election process?
    5. Is city council aware of worthy projects not being voted on.

  • I disagree. The alternative is the business-as-usual way that council members decide year-in and year-out on their own how to divvy up discretionary funds, a process far more vulnerable to waste and cronyism. I did not participate in the process last year for Lander’s district but I did vote. Lots of community groups in every neighborhood knew about the process, submitted proposals, and people had an opportunity to participate in vetting. I learned about meetings from emails from Lander’s office and from various commuity groups. The final proposals were from every neighborhod in the district and for all kinds of purposes. I know that I learned a lot about the needs of the community and gained a lot of perspective on the difficulties of prioritizing how to spend limited funds. All of the winners seemed worthy to me and the process, while not perfect, seemed far-removed from old fashioned cronyism. I think it is great in theory and practice and can always be refined and improved but I see no reason not to do this.

  • slopefarm, you make good points. it is just a little odd that the same council people who cannot be trusted to spend one million dollars in a transparent way are organizing and overseeing an election that decides the same thing. also, the fact that you received the info via email assumes that everyone has email, that everyone is on Lander’s email list and that everyone has access to the internet. the digital divide is still real and those without connectivity may miss out. There was a very low turnout last year.