A year ago, City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito was instrumental in helping to bring participatory budgeting to New York City, engaging her district and giving them say in the political process by allocating a percentage of the council member’s discretionary funds for capital projects of their choosing. In 2011, Mark-Viverito was one of four members, along with Jumaane Williams, Eric Ulrich, and Brad Lander, to introduce the process in their districts. But at a seminar Thursday evening at Baruch College, Mark-Viverito said that she hoped the success of the program in her community would encourage more members to sign on and for the city to eventually fold the initiative into its budget.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, we would love to see a percentage of the city budget allocated to this process,” Mark-Viverito said. “We’re nowhere near that, so we’re starting it off small to give people a foothold in it, to understand it, and as it grows in terms of number of members, and keeps growing from that experience, I think it could be really powerful.”
While four additional council members are participating in the participatory budgeting process this year–David Greenfield, Dan Halloran, Mark Weprin, and Steve Levin–Mark-Viverito said that it is difficult convincing other members to bring it to their district because of how labor-intensive the program is to set up. She hopes that, as the program expands, the city council might be able to centralize its support to take the burden off of the council members.