First Citywide Participatory Budgeting Program Seeks Ideas from Public

Image Credit: NYC Civic Engagement Commission.

All New Yorkers aged 11 and up can help decide how to spend $5 million of mayoral expense funding. On September 14, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams and Civic Engagement Commission Chair and Executive Director Dr. Sarah Sayeed announced the launch of NYC’s first ever citywide participatory budgeting process. “The People’s Money” will allow all New Yorkers ages 11 and up to decide how to spend $5 million in mayoral funds, with the goal of addressing local community needs across the five boroughs. The program will fund expense projects likes programs, events, and services, but not capital projects that require building new things that require construction or renovation.

Mayor Adams has advocated for expanded participatory budgeting for years, historically partaking in a participatory budgeting initiative as Brooklyn Borough President. In November 2018, a million voters then approved three ballot initiatives proposed by the Charter Revision Commission. These ballot initiatives created the Civic Engagement Commission and mandated the new agency to implement participatory budgeting citywide.

The citywide “People’s Money” program builds on Civic Engagement’s two local participatory budgeting processes, which were launched prior to receiving funding for a citywide program.  In 2019, “It’s Our Money”  awarded $20,000 to five youth-centered projects and engaged over 3,000 young people citywide, with youth organizations invited to submit project proposals. In 2021, “The People’s Money” empowered residents in the 33 neighborhoods hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic to budget $1.3 million in city funds.

Traditionally, participatory budgeting has only been available to New Yorkers whose local City Council Member opted to run a process in their district. These smaller processes typically utilize discretionary capital funding, meaning projects can take years to materialize. In contrast, the new citywide program will use expense funding, giving residents flexibility to share ideas and see them implemented within the following year. Launching citywide participatory budgeting will strengthen and expand NYC’s existing process, which is already the largest participatory budgeting program in the country.

Following a week of action that began September 19th, Civic Engagement will continue hosting brainstorming sessions citywide, developing ballot proposals for creative projects. Civic Engagement will be working alongside 86 partner organizations to hold these events, including NYC Racial Justice Commission, League of Asian Americans of New York, Center for the Independence of the Disabled, East Side House Settlement, and the Fund for Public Housing.

New Yorkers have through November 9th to submit ideas. After that date, borough advisory committees will review ideas to determine which proposals meet the criteria to be further developed into proposals. Next spring, developed ballot proposals will be voted on in each borough, and winning ideas will be implemented beginning in 2024. To submit ideas and find local idea-generating sessions throughout the budgeting process, New Yorkers can visit Civic Engagement’s website.

At “The People’s Money” launch, City Council Members Amanda Farias, Tiffany Caban, Shahana Hanif, Julie Menin, and Lynn Schulman voiced their support for the expanded citywide program. Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. also backed the new initiative.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright shared, “By expanding participatory budgeting citywide, the Adams administration, through the Civic Engagement Commission, is doubling down on its commitment to good governance and empowering New Yorkers to have a say in where their tax dollars go. I look forward to seeing the creative and collaborative projects New Yorkers will fund through this historic expansion.”

Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director of the Civic Engagement Commission: “Participatory budgeting is one pathway for engagement that enables communities to move their voice into action on decisions that impact their lives. We believe that by working together with people affected by policies, we can identify and solve our collective challenges and build the interdependence required for a healthy and resilient democracy.”

Mayor Adams: “Creating the first-ever citywide participatory budgeting process through the Civic Engagement Commission is a win for the community and keeps them both connected and engaged so that they know and have a say in where their tax dollars are. This initiative shows how being inclusive and open can yield results through strong civic engagement.”

By: Cassidy Strong (Cassidy is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

Mayor Adams, Civic Engagement Commission Announce Launch Of First-Ever Citywide Participatory Budgeting Process, September 14, 2022.


One thought on “First Citywide Participatory Budgeting Program Seeks Ideas from Public

  1. I live in East Harlem for the past 16 years, formerly from Yorkville at 90th Street and York Avenue, around the corner from Gracie Mansion.
    I moved further north to purchase a coop and in doing so, help gentrify the neighborhood.
    I suggest the $5 million dollars must be to take the homeless and drug addicts off the streets, so people can walk and live in a safer environment. The expectation to gentrify neighborhoods but no plan in place to clean up those neighborhoods from blite.
    Beautifying neighborhoods will mean nothing if wherever you walk you can’t escape
    the smell of urine from the homeless that is prevalent, in the street, alongside buildings and on the sidewalk under construction site passways.
    East River Plaza has “graffiti” like decor on the structure as you enter the plaza. I think that is a disgrace and keeps the neighborhood looking and feeling depressed. The city worked so hard to stop the graffiti of the 70’s defacing buildings. Why does East River Plaza give the optics that East Harlem residents
    like that? This is an insult and we as tax paying residents deserve better. Incentives to own in manhattan, but nothing is done to clean up neighborhoods from blite. No wonder people are fleeing New York City.

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