By Andrea Karshan
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced the results of participatory budgeting (PB) in Brooklyn.
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which local residents directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Over 26,000 Brooklyn residents cast ballots throughout the borough during the 2015-2016 participatory budgeting cycle and helped decide where funds would be allocated for projects around the borough.
Fifty-five out of 132 projects on Brooklyn’s ballots will be funded with $15,5 million of taxpayer dollars, including a $1 million contribution from Adams’ office. The money is proportioned equally to winning projects that voters chose in the districts of 10 participating council members.
“I thank Borough President Adams for understanding the positive impact of participatory budgeting,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca(Sunset Park, Red Hook). “His generous commitment of funds will amplify the voices of Brooklyn residents who collaborated by choosing worthy projects. Participatory budgeting is one of the ways we can transform people’s relationship with government using direct democracy. Brooklyn now leads the nation and the world in giving residents a voice in decisions that directly affect their communities.”
Besides Menchaca, other council members participating in PB include Stephen Levin(Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg), Antonio Reynoso (Williamsburg, Bushwick), Laurie A. Cumbo (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights), Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. (Bed-Stuy, North Crown Heights),Brad Lander (Park Slope. Windsor Terrace, Kensington), Mathieu Eugene (Flatbush), David G. Greenfield (Borough Park, Midwood), Jumaane D. Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood), and Mark Treyger (Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend).
Projects winning funding from PB include Sunset Park renovation allocated $500,000, Eight security cameras in Bensonhurst allocated $200,000, Upgrades at Brower Park basketball courts in Crown Heights allocated $600,000, and Street repairs on Avenue J, Avenue K, Nostrand Avenue, and Ocean Avenue in Midwood allocated $500,000.
Adams said it means a lot to be the first local elected official or agency head outside of the City Council to commit to PB, a revolutionary approach to growing democracy from the ground up.
“From Bensonhurst to Bushwick, Brooklynites have raised their voices and will directly benefit from the community improvements that they have prioritized with their votes,” he said.
Cumbo said some of the 19 projects in her district that were funded included public safety enhancements to technology upgrades on our city streets, housing developments, and public schools.
“This was an exciting time for the diverse voices of my district to allocate real money towards real projects as a reflection of real power. With 1,660 votes in our inaugural year, this endeavor was overwhelmingly successful thanks to the participation of our youth, seniors, and families,” said Cumbo.
Williams noted that the winning projects in Brooklyn reflect some of the main priorities of the community.
“Participatory budgeting is an empowering tool that puts power back into the hands of the people,” he said.
All residents 14 years or older in participating districts can vote in PB. With the success of this program the elected officials plan to do this process again during the next budget session.