Participatory Budgeting Debuts in New York

Tom DiChristopher reports on a pioneering project in New York City that gives the residents of four City Council districts a direct vote on how to allocate municipal funds.

The pilot program, a first for New York City, provides residents with an opportunity to decide how to spend up to $1 million in capital funds on physical improvements in their communities, such as planting trees or installing security lights.

Following on similar projects in Toronto and Chicago, "the New York City project is the brainchild of Josh Lerner, co-director of the nonprofit Participatory Budget Project. Lerner brought the idea to politicians and community leaders in 2010", with the goal of getting residents more involved in government, writes DiChristopher.

"Since November, budget delegates have whittled down the ideas that came out of community meetings, considering only those that meet the city's criteria for capital funding. They met with experts from city agencies, community organizations and nonprofits to flesh out projects and set budgets.

The budget delegates sent their final list of projects to city agencies for review. They'll present the approved projects to their communities through the middle of March."

Full Story: Project Has Citizens Making Budget Choices

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