Over 67,000 New Yorkers voted to allocate $38 million dollars for locally-developed capital projects across the city

New York—Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council announced the voting results and winning proposals of the 2015-2016 Participatory Budgeting cycle. During the voting period of March 26th through April 3rd, over 67,000 New Yorkers voted to allocate $38 million dollars for locally-developed capital projects across 28 Council Districts in New York City.

“Participatory budgeting puts power back into the hands of the people, giving New Yorkers a direct say in how their taxpayer dollars are spent to improve their local community. This cycle, over 67,000 New Yorkers cast their vote across 28 districts across the city in our most expansive participatory budgeting process to date. This cycle also featured key innovations in voter engagement – including remote voting, digital ballots, and pop-up poll sites – that allows our city to test new tools to increase civic participation. Participatory budgeting brings the full diversity of New York City to the decision-making table and I thank everyone who participated for helping grow and strengthen this deeply democratic process,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

New Yorkers cast 67, 690 ballots in the 2015-2016 Participatory Budgeting cycle. Out of 379 projects on the ballots, 132 will be funded with $38,295,700.

Participatory Budgeting is a grassroots process through which community residents vote to directly allocate at least $1 million in capital funding per district toward proposals developed by the community to meet local needs. Through a series of public meetings, residents work with elected officials throughout the year to identify neighborhood concerns and craft proposals to address them. Residents then decide which proposals to fund through a public vote.

Ballots for the 2015-2016 Participatory Budgeting cycle were available in nine languages other than English—Spanish, Chinese, French Creole, Korean, Russian, Polish, Greek, Yiddish, Bengali—based on local demographics in participating districts. Every district featured digital voting stations at poll sites as well as pop-up mobile voting sites on commercial strips, in community centers and building lobbies using mobile electronic devices provided by Microsoft and Google. Eleven districts piloted a program that allows for remote voting.

Voting in Participatory Budgeting is open to all residents of participating districts 14 years of age and older. The sole identification requirement is proof of residency in the district, removing traditional obstacles to full civic participation such as youth, income status, English-language proficiency and citizenship status.

For the 2015-2016 cycle, 28 Council Members facilitated Participatory Budgeting in their districts:

  • Corey Johnson (District 3, Manhattan)
  • Ben Kallos (District 5, Manhattan)
  • Helen Rosenthal (District 6, Manhattan)
  • Mark Levine (District 7, Manhattan)
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito (District 8, Manhattan/Bronx)
  • Ydanis Rodriguez (District 10, Manhattan)
  • Andrew Cohen (District 11, Bronx)
  • Ritchie Torres (District 15, Bronx)
  • Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens)
  • Julissa Ferreras (District 21, Queens)
  • Costa Constantinides (District 22, Queens)
  • Barry Grodenchik (District 23, Queens)
  • Jimmy Van Bramer (District 26, Queens)
  • Daneek Miller (District 27, Queens)
  • Karen Koslowitz (District 29, Queens)
  • Elizabeth Crowley (District 30, Queens)
  • Donovan Richards (District 31, Queens)
  • Eric Ulrich (District 32, Queens)
  • Steve Levin (District 33, Brooklyn)
  • Antonio Reynoso (District 34, Brooklyn/Queens)
  • Laurie Cumbo (District 35, Brooklyn)
  • Robert Cornegy (District 36, Brooklyn)
  • Carlos Menchaca (District 38, Brooklyn)
  • Brad Lander (District 39, Brooklyn)
  • Mathieu Eugene (District 40, Brooklyn)
  • David Greenfield (District 44, Brooklyn)
  • Jumaane Williams (District 45, Brooklyn)
  • Mark Treyger (District 47, Brooklyn)

A map of winning projects and full voting results by district can be viewed at labs.council.nyc/pb/

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said: “I am proud that Brooklyn has embraced participatory budgeting like no other borough, with residents in 10 council districts getting empowered to design and vote on transformative local projects funded by their hard-earned tax dollars. The $1 million leveraged through my capital budget amplified the power of everyday Brooklynites in this process, and I look forward to seeing all of the additional community improvements come to life in neighborhoods from Gravesend to Greenpoint. Civic engagement is the fuel that powers our democracy, and the City Council should be commended for their commitment to supercharging that fuel through PB.”

“No one knows the needs in their community better than the people who live there. Participatory Budgeting gives New Yorkers the power to make real decisions on where we invest tax dollars and allows for greater transparency in the City’s processes. I am proud to bring Participatory Budgeting to my district for a third year, and I look forward to the improvements my constituents will bring to our community,” Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

“Participatory Budgeting gives residents of the 26th District the ability to participate in a grassroots process and allocate over $1.8 million to the projects they love most. I’m extremely proud of the work our budget delegates did to winnow down hundreds of ideas into 19 real, implementable projects, and of the 3600 residents of Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and Astoria who got out and voted for their favorite projects. The winning projects will all be a fantastic addition to the community,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

““I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership and continued commitment to civic engagement. I was proud to implement Participatory Budgeting in the 35th District for the very first time to gain key insight into the needs that exist within the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “Our nineteen projects ranged from public safety enhancements to technology upgrades on our city streets, housing developments, and public schools. This was an exciting time for the diverse voices of my district to allocate real money towards real projects as a reflection of real power. With 1,660 votes in our inaugural year, this endeavor was overwhelmingly successful thanks to the participation of our youth, seniors, and families. Congratulations to this cycle’s winners: the Willoughby Senior Center, Public Schools 9, 16, 20, 375, and 532.”

Council Member Robert Cornegy said: “We are proud of the positive results from the inaugural undertaking of the Participatory Budgeting process. This experience has allowed us to engage youth in the City’s budget procedures and we applaud the intergenerational show of Democracy. Our winning projects will be beneficial to all members of the community and we look forward to its implementation.”

“I am thrilled by the feedback we received during Participatory Budgeting and the final projects the community decided on. Schools and libraries are the lifeblood of our communities and these improvements will benefit people of all ages. We were able to end this cycle so successfully because of the voters and all volunteers who participated. It is the residents who know their neighborhoods the best, and together, we will build a stronger community. I look forward to relaunching the next cycle,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

“Participatory Budgeting had a successful second year in Council District 15 thanks to more than 50 volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to ensuring the process was engaging, thoughtful and fun. Through PB, we were able to involve Bronx residents in determining how city dollars are spent in their neighborhood, and connect with communities marked by years of civic disengagement. The five projects that will receive capital funds in District 15 will improve public safety and bring educational opportunities. I look forward to continuing PB next year in the District,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Participatory budgeting (PB) is direct democracy in action. In the Brooklyn neighborhoods I represent, PB is fostering new civic leaders. I’m proud our district garnered the highest number of votes citywide for the third year in a row. I’m even more proud that the majority votes were cast by often marginalized people like non-English speakers, recent immigrants and youth. I am committed to expanding PB in New York City because it transforms residents’ perception of government and puts political and economic power directly in their hands. I thank the Speaker for the City Council resources devoted to PB and for her continuing leadership on this progressive topic,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“As PB in New York City continues to grow and expand, we are presented with new opportunities and challenges. The PB process is guided by a set of goals and principles that are exemplary: empowerment, transparency, inclusion, equality and community. PB has the potential to be a civic engagement opportunity for those who cannot participate in regular voting, as well as to open up government, build community and bring people together. We look forward to continued efforts to promote inclusive and expansive participation in this unique process,” said Erin Markman, Community Development Project, Urban Justice Center.

“D21 was proud to partner with the City of New York on using digital tools to make PB-NYC even stronger,” offered Lex Paulson, international counselor for D21. “Working alongside council members and the community, we helped the Council standardize voter registration, print fewer unused ballots, and let voters vote find their ‘home’ ballot at any voting site across the city. And for the first time, this year residents of any participating district could choose to cast their ballot digitally. When done right, D21 believes that digital tools can help make PB more accessible, inclusive and financially sustainable, and we congratulate NYC on another outstanding year for PB,” said Lex Paulson, International Counselor at Democracy 2.1.

“Thanks to Participatory Budgeting Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island schools have benefited with millions of dollars in funding over the last two years. The children of my district and education are the real winners with Participatory Budgeting,” Said Council Member Ben Kallos.” “Participatory Budgeting has proven be an excellent way to get the community educated and involved. I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support and leadership in growing the Participatory Budgeting process.”

“For the second straight year, district 7 proved that government can be more transparent and inclusive. More than two thousands residents including seniors, school children and the formerly incarcerated took advantage of the opportunity to determine how to spend more than $1 million of their own tax dollars. From playground renovation to tree planting, I’m thrilled that the chosen projects address the needs of everyone in our community,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“Participatory budgeting lets residents decide how tax dollars are spent on important projects in their neighborhoods. The process empowers and strengthens our local communities,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich. “I am grateful to everyone who voted and I look forward to continuing participatory budgeting next year so our residents will once again be a part of this inclusive and democratic initiative.”

“At a time when Americans are deeply divided, participatory budgeting brings thousands of people together to improve their communities and transform our democracy. PBNYC is one of the largest and most inclusive participatory budgeting programs in the world, recognized by the White House and Harvard as a model for innovative and open government. We are excited to spread this new approach to civic engagement across the country,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, the non-profit leading the growth of participatory budgeting in North America.

“Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers and the enthusiasm of Upper West Siders, Participatory Budgeting was again a great success in District 6. With thousands of residents of all ages taking part, it was a great testament to the civic dedication of the Upper West Side,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“Participatory Budgeting is civic and community engagement at its finest and helps to teach our youth about the excitement of getting involved in the democratic process at an early age,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “This year’s process was a huge success as we brought in more than 3,000 votes resulting in some big improvements for Far Rockaway High School. I look forward to bringing PB back to District 31 next and I’d like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership in making this program thrive across the city.”

“Nobody knows a community better than the people who live there, and that’s why I’m so happy that we had another year of record-breaking turnout for Participatory Budgeting. This great initiative provides the transparency and openness that are so often missing from the budget process. Through their votes, the people of my district had a direct say in how their tax dollars are spent, and now we will be funding a range of projects that will make our communities stronger, safer, and more beautiful. This truly is democracy at its best,” said Council Member David Greenfield.

“Participatory Budgeting is not only about drawing on the community for innovative projects, it’s also about engaging individuals from all walks of life in a vibrant, civic process. I’m pleased to continue to support this grassroots initiative and I look forward to what the community will come up with next year,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“I am so proud of how well our volunteers and delegates pitched in to make this year’s participatory budgeting a great success,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “PB is a great way for community members to engage in the city budget process and strengthen our democracy.”

“After five very successful years of PBNYC in my district, it’s remarkable to see how this idea has taken off across the city,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “This year 28 districts participated (up from just four when we started) and tens of thousands of New Yorkers voted citywide. My district saw its highest vote total to date, with 3100 people coming out to take part in expanding democracy and support our neighborhoods. We held polling stations across the district from mosques to senior-centers to a very rainy Little League parade, and even had a mobile vote station attached to the back of a bike. This year we took the opportunity to further expand PBNYC by offering a second ballot for expense projects too. I’m so thrilled to see how this idea has grown each year, both in my district and citywide. Thank you to so many of colleagues for participating this year, and to Speaker Mark-Viverito for her belief in and commitment to the power of PBNYC.

“2016 witnessed a year over year 20% increase in resident voting in the Participatory Budgeting elections. This increase speaks to the growing awareness and enthusiasm for Participatory Budgeting,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

Cycle 5 of PBNYC introduced new residents to participatory democracy. Going from 24 to 28 districts, more opportunity for New York City residents, especially low-income families, to have a direct say in how part of the public budget was spent in their community became a reality. Community Voices Heard (CVH) was proud to have worked in 7 of the 28 participating districts engaging public housing residents through door knocking and approaching residents in high traffic areas leading up to and during vote week. We also assisted in setting up over 25 vote sites throughout the 7 districts and spoke to over 5,000 residents; not only getting votes, but encouraging them to get involved at the beginning of cycle 6 as a budget delegate. Because of its inclusive nature, CVH hopes that participation in PBNYC will open the door and motivate participation in local, state, and federal elections for those eligible and create the necessary dialogue that birthed IDNYC and municipal IDs for our undocumented neighbors and family members. They too deserve to have their voice heard!” said Aaron Jones, Mass Engagement Director, Community Voices Heard.

“I am thrilled by the feedback we received during Participatory Budgeting and the final projects the community decided on. Schools and libraries are the lifeblood of our communities and these improvements will benefit people of all ages. We were able to end this cycle so successfully because of the voters and all volunteers who participated. It is the residents who know their neighborhoods the best, and together, we will build a stronger community. I look forward to relaunching the next cycle,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

“Participatory Budgeting exemplifies the best in grassroots democracy,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “This was an incredibly successful year for PB in Council District 3, with over two thousand residents coming out to decide how their tax dollars should be spent. It was a real team effort. We had an amazing group of volunteer budget delegates who put in time and energy into these community projects. We were able to fund five great projects, but every project on the ballot was truly worthwhile and ultimately I hope they all will be funded. I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her work in expanding this incredible initiative and all my fellow Council Members who participate.”

“Participatory Budgeting is an invaluable tool that gives residents an opportunity to help determine how public capital funds are allocated to best serve their communities. It also gives elected officials, myself included, a chance to hear directly from our residents about the issues they feel are most important. As a former educator, it gave me especially great pride to see so many principals, teachers, and students actively engaging in the civic process. The winning projects in the 47th District, including bus countdown clocks, renovations for McDonald Playground, and technology funding for several elementary, middle, and high schools, are initiatives deserving of the attention. I’d like to thank all those who participated, and I would also like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for leading the way in increasing the public’s involvement in the civic process,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.

“Participatory Budgeting continues to rapidly grow throughout New York City, giving more New Yorkers the ability to participate in their government regardless if they are a citizen or registered to vote. Almost 1,800 people voted in my district; many of whom were non-citizens or teenagers as young as 14 years old,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “This innovative process promoted civic engagement, gave my neighbors insight into the City budget and allowed them to have a direct voice in how their tax dollars are spent. I am looking forwarding to further growing PB next year by engaging even more people in my district. “

“Participatory budgeting provided a great opportunity for my constituents to directly decide what they want to see accomplished in our neighborhood,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “It is so important that the community’s voice is heard. In order to empower the community, we need to ensure that New Yorkers are involved in the budget process. I was pleased to allocate $1 million dollars for participatory budgeting, and I look forward to working with my constituents to ensure a more vibrant and democratic 40th District.”

“I want to thank all the volunteers who participated from District 34, and the 3,000-plus members of my community who came out to vote on the project proposals. I am so impressed by the budget delegates’ energy, creativity, and willingness to collaborate, and I’m excited by the winning projects, which included a playground for public housing residents, upgrades to school technology and infrastructure, and even bus countdown clocks. I’m already looking forward to next year,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“Participatory budgeting is an empowering tool, which I am happy my constituents were able to take part in. The budget process is one of the most important things I do as a council member. As rewarding and impactful this process is, it’s unfortunately one that many constituents don’t understand. Participatory budgeting provides an opportunity for members to be engaged and learn about the budget process. Our winning projects reflect some of the main priorities the community has, which are mainly tied to safety and education. Community members came together and reached a consensus on priorities that address the needs of the community. The winning projects provide technology upgrades to students at Midwood High School, repairs to streets and new bus pads to prevent the heat and weight of buses from softening the asphalt and thus damaging the streets. This is democracy and action and I look forward to the PB process next year,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

“Participatory budgeting in northern Manhattan saw a tremendous response this year, with more than double the total votes from our inaugural round,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Our community saw some great projects on the ballot this year and the winning projects will add to the character of our neighborhood for years to come. I am so proud of all of my staff, the volunteers and the delegates that made this a tremendously successful year and I look forward to seeing the gains we can continue to make going forward.”

“Participatory budgeting has been a great way to hear the pulse of the community and see how residents believe city dollars and resources should be spent. The results clearly show my district overwhelmingly supported the process. At a time when voter turnout is at a record low, we have created a way to engage our youth and youngest voters as to the power and importance of voting,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “This monumental, eight month task could not have been possible without the continuous dedication of our delegates, community liaisons, volunteers, staff and especially Vito Tautonico, our Director of Constituent Services, who spearheaded the process. I look forward to continuing to grow the process next year.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “The enthusiasm we saw from voters throughout this community-driven process is what made Participatory Budgeting a success. I am proud that we reached many who are usually underrepresented in our regular elections. Many of our community members got the opportunity to engage with the city budget cycle in a meaningful way. We will continue to work with city agencies and community stakeholders as the winning capital projects are implemented. I thank all the volunteers and budget delegates for their hard work.”