Exclusive: CM Gibson Rolls Out Participatory Budgeting, July 18

Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson Rolls out Participatory Budgeting for District 16

by Koi Germany, Staff Writer 

In an exclusive interview with the Bronx Chronicle, Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson announced the move earlier this week to incorporate participatory budgeting into District 16 of the Bronx for the 2018 fiscal year, authorizing $1 million in capital funding.
As the name implies, participatory budgeting is a means of involving the community in public works and projects, providing residents with a say in how their taxpayer dollars are spent.

 

The democratic process begins with the selection of community ambassadors, comprised of local leaders and residents, whose jobs include actively campaigning for a variety of improvement proposals and notifying the public of works that are up for consideration. Subsequent assemblies are then held in the neighborhoods which comprise the district in order to discuss the budgeting process and how community members can get involved and share their opinions on what improvements they would like to see. The proposals then go to a ballot where the most popular will be enacted in a collaborative effort with the relevant city agencies. 

 

Projects can range anywhere from added public safety measures to park beautification efforts. Unselected projects also have the possibility of making it to ballot for the next fiscal year, if interest level is sufficient.

 

“It was really a grassroots effort to make sure that all residents of a district are able to vote on projects that they can see come to fruition,” said Councilmember Gibson. “And it really lets the entire community whether they are voters traditionally or not.”

 

Designed to be entirely inclusive, members of communities who are ages fourteen and older, documented and undocumented residents may weigh in and cast their votes.


The budgeting process begins next week Monday, July 18th with community leader selection and continues over the next several months until the final ballots are cast in April and enacted June 2017.


We have to get people to understand that it is voting in a different way. It’s voting on a local level about projects that you care about in your district, how you want to improve your neighborhood, and you actually have a say in that,” said Gibson, stressing the importance of a community voice.