City residents pay the highest taxes in the country. Aside from the federal and state taxes, we pay city income, water, sewer and property taxes and more.
Wouldn’t it be nice to decide exactly where those tax dollars are going?
This year, I am offering my constituents in northeast Queens the chance to do just that, through a system called Participatory Budgeting.
Through Participatory Budgeting, my constituents can meet, discuss and vote on how to spend $1 million in capital funds. This means bricks and mortar. These funds construct parks, schools and roads. They make an impact in their communities for generations.
Small towns in New England are run by town meetings to this day. I am bringing this philosophy to the biggest city in America.
This Tuesday, we planned a meeting at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point to gather ideas. Next week, we’re having a follow-up meeting at my office in Whitestone. The address is 166-08 24th Road. Everyone in northeast Queens is invited to attend.
I am hopeful this process will increase transparency in city government. I often hear the complaint that the city budget is a mess — and it is. People do not know what they are getting for their tax dollars, and it is well-established that districts like mine in northeast Queens pay in a lot more than they receive. We do not get anything close to our fair share of services considering our tax base.
With Participatory Budgeting, citizens will know exactly how $1 million of their money is being spent. That is a step toward more transparency. It is a way to get more people involved in their government, and it will make sure city government reflects the values and desires of New Yorkers.
Come out to the Steering Committee next week at my office. If you have any questions about the process, call 718-631-6703. Remember, the whole point is to hear what you have to say and to get you involved.
It is your money — spend it your way.