Participatory budgeting votes tallied

Students at PS 369 on E. 140 St. will have new laptops and residents of Millbrook Houses will have new security cameras and a solar-powered greenhouse, thanks to votes cast by their neighbors earlier in April.

City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents Mott Haven and East Harlem, was one of four Council members to implement Participatory Budgeting in the city last year. This year’s vote was held during the first two weeks in April. Three more Council members introduced the initiative to their constituents this year.

The initiative was first introduced in the US in Chicago in 2009, and has since been taken up in Boston, San Francisco, and Vallejo, CA, along with New York City.

Mark-Viverito said she nearly doubled her funding commitment from an initial $1 million to $1.9 million for this year’s six winning projects.

“We almost doubled the number of votes in our district from 1,000 in year one to 1,770 in year two,” she said, adding that this year’s pool of residents who participated and voted in the program included “formerly incarcerated youth, public housing tenants, and members of our immigrant community.”

“These proposals are a reflection of the wide variety of community needs that delegates analyzed such as more access to technology in schools, senior-friendly spaces, safe public housing, quality recreation and parks,” she said.

The next cycle of Participatory Budgeting will begin in September, when participating districts will hold public assemblies where residents can propose ideas for next year’s ballots.