April 4, 2014 By Christian Murray
Residents of Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City will soon have a direct say on how $1 million in city funds will be spent in the district.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who each year allocates funds for parks, clubs and schools, plans on introducing participatory budgeting in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, where about 30% of the discretionary funds he receives will be put in the hands of the community to spend.
The participatory budgeting program allows residents themselves to determine where to allocate funds for capital projects in the district. The community might decide to spend funds on, say, improving a Long Island City park to funding a Woodside dog run.
The process involves holding a series of town hall meetings and workshops where residents present their ideas to the community and a vote is held on whether an item is worth funding.
“I’m excited by this,” Van Bramer said. “It is a community driven process that allows people to vote,” he said. “It is a way to increase transparency.”
Van Bramer said he is reluctant to allow the community to vote on all or most of the funds. He said that some groups that are not as well organized might be overlooked in the process. However, he said, he will monitor how it works out and will make changes accordingly.