DCP Upgrades Important Community Board Budget Request Tool for District Needs

DCP’s new interactive tool for community boards. Image Credit: DCP

New and improved online platform will help Community Boards advocate for public priorities. On August 26, 2019, Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago announced a new and improved online platform which will help Community Boards advocate for public priorities more easily. The new, user-friendly digital platform will allow Community Boards to formally submit their annual needs and budget requests to the City with easier access to relevant City data to assist with their requests.

The webtool, called “Community District Profiles”, is part of an ongoing effort by DCP to support members of the public in making their voices heard about their neighborhood’s needs.

Community Boards are gearing up to submit their annual budget requests, due October 31. Throughout the year, the boards gather data to assess local conditions and get input from the public on neighborhood needs. Community Boards will hold public meetings in the early fall to finalize and vote on priorities.

DCP has worked with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since 2015 to streamline and simplify the submissions of all 59 community boards. Community Boards in lower-income areas have increased the number of budget requests they submit to City agencies.  As a result of this streamlining process, those areas are now on par with the traditionally better-resourced, higher-income neighborhoods.

The new platform will make it easier for the public to participate in the budget process and New York City agencies will be able to highlight Community Board requests by allowing the community boards to submit supporting details and prioritization of requests at an earlier date in the budget cycle. More detailed and specific submissions usually result in more active dialogue between the boards and agency planners throughout the year and at budget season. With the new platform, Community Boards will be able to more readily share their priorities with the public and elected officials after requests are submitted. Training and support will be provided by DCP to assist Community Boards in using the new system most effectively.

Annual Community Board submissions have the “Top 3 pressing issues,” and the rankings are used to further help the Administration align its efforts with community needs. “Affordable housing” was last year’s most frequently mentioned issue with 30 of 59 boards nominating it as their top need. “Schools” and “traffic” ranked second, with 19 and 15 community boards respectively. Throughout other boroughs, some top priorities were: “affordable housing” and “quality of life” for The Bronx, “affordable housing” and “schools” for Brooklyn, “affordable housing” and “trash removal/cleanliness” for Manhattan, “schools,” “traffic” and “street flooding” for Queens and “traffic” for Staten Island. “Crime” which is on a downtrend in this Administration, was one of the least identified issues last year among Community Boards across the city.

The new DCP platform provides numerous functions that will make it simpler for Community Boards to meaningfully advocate for their neighborhoods, including:

  • Access available from any computer with an internet connection
  • Links to relevant tools/sources, such as DCP’s Population FactFinder, as well as data from other agencies (school seats, crime statistics, health services), helping Community Boards describe and more fully substantiate their needs
  • More intuitive interface, for easy navigation between parts of a submission
  • Ability to ‘drag-and-drop’ budget requests into a prioritized order
  • Simpler printing and reporting, letting users more easily share drafts with board members and various stakeholders as well as post it on their websites
  • Secure collaboration, allowing multiple users to edit a document simultaneously

DCP’s Community Portal has published last year’s final budget submissions for each Community Board. The budget submissions for Fiscal Year 2021 are expected to be posted by January 2020. The preliminary budget is scheduled for release on April 26, 2020, and the adopted budget is scheduled for release on June 5, 2020.

DCP Director Marisa Lago noted, “Community Boards are an essential element of our city’s budgeting process. So DCP is especially pleased to provide New York City’s diverse Community Boards with enhanced tools to smartly and efficiently advocate their neighborhood’s needs – whether it be affordable housing, school seats, bike lanes, a health clinic, better street cleaning, or any other City service. I urge members of the public to attend their local Community Board meetings and get involved in championing the causes near and dear to them.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer stated, “Community Boards are the grassroots of government in New York. This new online platform will help those grassroots grow faster, deeper and more robust. Getting government away from its paper addiction is simply common sense– it makes budget applications less like filing your own taxes and it’s more efficient and better for the planet, too.”

Eddie Mark, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 13 stated, “We are pleased to see the DCP program to simplify the computer procedures to input the Community District Needs.  It has given us the ability to share with other Community Board members to review and add information to the report.  The Community Board budget requests have made it easier to see the agency’s responses to our problems and give options how to handle the issues and know where to focus our priorities.  With the updated, computerized format, it has made it easier to prioritize the needs of the community.”

George Torres, District Manager for Bronx Community Board 12 stated, “I think the new website is great. It will give me an opportunity to show my Board Members directly what we are asking for and what our priorities as a community should be. The website is very user-friendly and simply laid out. It’s my hope to use this to get more input from my Board and community at large on what matters most to us.”

To contact your local Community Board, please visit the Community Affairs Unit’s website.


By: Abby Cannon (Abby is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2020.)



2 thoughts on “DCP Upgrades Important Community Board Budget Request Tool for District Needs

  1. S/he who controls the data controls the narrative.

    That is what is going on here. CB Users are being steered to linked data and formats. They are being conditioned to think in the deepest, darkest corners of the policy box and to never leave. Rejection of the model is simpy not an option.

    In NYC Community Boards are a rubberstamp for Upzoning and City Council decisions. The quid pro quo are the discretionary funds which are used in district as slush funds.

    The mechanism here should not be a more datacentric means of producing a highly politicized and misleading quantification of public support for the zoning abomination of the day, but a true direct public input.

    Community Boards may be the biggest reactionary tool in NYC. Abolish them and the fake data they generate in support of stratification of wealth and housing.

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