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By Juan Soto

There is nothing like a good experience to push one to repeat it.

That’s why City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) is moving along with his participatory budgeting efforts.

After his experience in Far Rockaway last year, Richards decided to provide the same opportunity for his Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens constituents.

In response, he held his first meeting to prepare residents in these neighborhoods on how to spend $1 million of capital discretionary funds. Neighbors will be in control of their own taxpayer money.

“It is great to see the community engaging in conversation about what they want to see in their community,” Richards said.

The inaugural session for the 2014 participatory budgeting process took place at the St. Luke Resource Center, at 133-24 233rd St. in Rosedale.

Approximately 50 people showed up.

“It’s hard to get people out in the summer, so it was a well-attended meeting,” the councilman said.

“I am excited about engaging residents on how to improve their communities,” Richards said. “It gives us the perfect opportunity to include the entire district in the decision-making process.”

Before residents are asked to come up with project ideas, like improvements in parks and schools, Richards will hold another information session next week in Springfield Gardens.

Once the ideas are presented, they will be studied to determine if they are viable.

The projects that receive the go-ahead by city agencies and Richards’ office will be voted on by the residents of the district.

According to the timetable, the popular vote is expected sometime next spring.

In Far Rockaway, the seven ideas that got on the ballot were done. Richards said his office ended up allocating more than $1 million to execute the seven projects the public presented.

“If the budget allows for it, we will spend more than $1 million in this part of the district if the ideas are good,” Richards said.

Another 21 Council members are participating in the program this fiscal year. Together, the 22 Council districts designated $25 million toward locally developed projects and programs. In New York City, the number of participating districts this year are double those that took part in 2013.

Participatory budgeting began in Brazil in 1989, when civic groups demanded transparency and a more direct saying in city government.

“Participatory budgeting is a gateway to greater civic participation and leadership in our communities, encouraging collaboration between residents and local elected officials to find creative solutions to neighborhood needs,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) said.

“I hope next year I will be able to do the participatory budgeting in both sides of the district,” Richards said.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto­@cngl­ or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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