NYC November Ballot Initiative: Create a Civic Engagement Commission and have Citywide Participatory Budgeting

A short highlight about a simple – and yet complex – question for NYC voters:  Do you want to establish a new engagement body, within city government, and a specific kind of outreach and participation – on a slice of the overall city government budget?

Here is the start of the ballot question:

Question # 2: Civic Engagement Commission

This proposal would amend the City Charter to:

Create a Civic Engagement Commission that would implement, no later than the City Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2020, a Citywide participatory budgeting program established by the Mayor to promote participation by City residents in making recommendations for projects in their communities;

A report by the New York City Charter Revision Commission covers this question and two other ballot questions for this fall.

The advocacy group Participatory Budgeting Project offers a summary and support the ballot initiative.  Unsurprisingly, there was a public hearing process about the ballot question proposal, including this local press coverage of a June public gathering.

We’ll find out how New York voters decide. But for now, should this kind of decision be left to voters? Is this a good way to use ballot initiatives to both set up a new piece of the city’s engagement approach AND to specify a particular area – the city budget – for a new form of engagement?

Durham Budgeting Process and Neighborhood Representation

Well I have been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to talk to you about concerning community participating in the budgeting process. I must explain the current budgeting process here in Durham. We have what is called Coffee with City Council with all five PACs (Partners Against Crime) districts. PACs are supposed to be the groups that represent the different neighborhoods. There is also Council meetings with other groups, and finally we have two open public hearings in April and June. I think we have more than enough community input, but what I think is the problem is that City Council and city staff don’t often value the citizen input and therefore the recommendations aren’t funded. While there are open meetings and a transparent process, it feels more like staff “checking the box” of doing things. It is not effective for particular neighborhoods. City Council does fund great things for high income communities and businesses in certain areas but allow low income communities to get worse. In turn, businesses in those low income areas are denied resources to help grow their businesses. Continue Reading

Neighborhoods Vote to Spend $500K on 30 Projects in Greensboro

From Ranata Reeder, an update on the City of Greensboro first Participatory Budgeting process. See her first post.

In April, the last step in neighborhoods choosing particular spending priorities was conducted. Before I reveal the outcome of the vote, it is important to see the whole process of local government budget outreach.

In August 2015, the City of Greensboro embarked on its first Participatory Budgeting process. Not only was this a first for Greensboro, it is the first Participatory Budgeting process in the south. Greensboro officially made it to the PB map!






Greensboro residents proposed ideas, developed proposals, and voted on how to spend $100,000 in each of Greensboro’s five city council districts, totaling $500,000. Continue Reading