Participatory budgeting gives local residents direct control over part of the city budget. The project is in its third year in New York City and is expected to be used in up to 22 Council districts, covering more than $20 million.
The way it works is this: local residents, regardless of age or citizenship status, get together to discuss capital needs — infrastructure, buildings or equipment — to improve their neighborhoods. Projects are voted on in community meetings, and then local politicians must spend on those items.
The project was started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, and it is currently in use in 1,500 communities around the world. In the U.S., it is used in Chicago, San Francisco, Vallejo, California.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons user Mondo
Melissa Mark-Viverito currently serves as a New York City Council Member, representing District 8, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan Valley and Mott Haven. She was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended Columbia College at Columbia University in New York City where she earned her B.A. in Political Science in 1991. Melissa was selected to attend the National Urban Fellows Program and earned her Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York in 1995.
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