Learns About Participatory Budgeting
A City Council member is bringing participatory budgeting to sections of Richmond Hill, residents learned at a Richmond Hill Block Association meeting held last Wednesday, Jan. 29.
City Council Member Eric Ulrich is introducing the process to new neighborhoods in his district.
Participatory budgeting allows residents to vote on which capital projects the council member funds, according to Rudy S. Giuliani, Ulrich’s chief of staff.
Capital projects are “brick-andmortar” works like building annexes and remodeling, as well as some items (such as computers) that last more than five years, Giuliani explained.
The funding may only go to nonprofit entities that have previously received money from the city, he said.
Similarly, the money cannot be used on city services, it was noted.
“You can’t say ‘we want to give the teachers at P.S. 63 a raise,'” Giuliani said. “You can’t say ‘we want more police officers or more garbage pickup on JamaicaAvenue.'”
Even placing more garbage cans along major thoroughfares is not acceptable, because it would create the need for more garbage pickup.
Instead, residents could opt to replace old cans with new, tamperproof bins. Or, they could ask for lighting upgrades along arterial streets, Giuliani said.
As part of the process, Ulrich will collect project ideas from his district’s residents until mid- February. Then, “budget delegates” from eligible communities around the district vote on which items will appear on the final ballot. In early April, residents 16 and older can vote for projects from the ballot they would like to see funded. The council member will then submit those projects during the city’s budgetary process, Giuliani said.
Voting is held in public spaces like libraries and churches, and an ID proving residency in the district is required to vote, it was noted.
Giuliani said that the more specific a project recommendation is, the better chance it has of progressing through the process and winding up on the ballot.
For instance, requesting new LED lights along Jamaica Avenue between 111th Street and Lefferts Boulevard is better than requesting more lights along commercial strips, Giuliani explained.
Richmond Hill will not be the first neighborhood in the council member’s district to take part in participatory budgeting.
Ulrich introduced the budgeting system in his section the Rockaways three years ago, it was noted.
Giuliani said past projects included improving handicap accessibility in public buildings, making general upgrades to school technology and buying a bookvending machine for residents of Breezy Point who do not have quick access to a Queens Public Library.
Giuliani said money from participatory budgeting can fund projects outside of the council member’s district if they serve his constituency.
“Don’t get too hung up on district lines,” he advised residents.
Residents of City Council District 32 can submit participatory budget project ideas to RGiuliani@council.nyc.gov.