It's your money, help decide how it should be spent
by Andrew Pavia
Oct 10, 2012 | 2355 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ouncilman Stephen Levin is giving his constituents $1 million to spend any way they want.

Levin is taking part in the participatory budgeting program, in which constituents suggest, discuss and debate projects that should be funded.

On Wednesday October 3, Levin held a neighborhood assembly at the YMCA's Community Room in Boreum Hill. At the meeting, constituents received a lesson on participatory budget and took part in the beginning stages of coming up with worthwhile projects.

Levin said that to participate in the program, tall residents needed was the ability and willingness to dedicate their time to the project.

Members of the 33rd District volunteer to become “delegates” for a project and work towards creating a workable concept. In February, the projects will be presented to the community, who will vote for their favorite projects in March. Winning projects will be funded in the next citywide budget, which is finalized in June.

One community member who attended the meeting, Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, had an idea before the meeting even began. Along with the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, Balboza wants to transform an unused area under the BQE into a place where where children can play.

“It's a better process,” Levin told the crowd. “It's more democratic and it involves everybody in the decisions of the government, instead of just the 51 City Council members that spend a lot of their time at City Hall talking to one another. You know who would know what to do with this money better than the council members? The people.”

This program was adopted by Levin after it proved successful when four City Council members participated in the program last year.

“It was such a smashing success last year hat I decided I would love to be able to participate in that as well,” Levin said.

The process will begin to take shape in the coming months as delegates will be broken up into categories like “Transportation,” “Street Improvements” and “Parks and Recreation,” where delegates will brainstorm ideas.

There are no set number of delegates, and they can be as young as 14 years old. Delegates will not be allowed to vote on the projects. In order to vote on the proposals in June, a community member needs to live in the district, be 16 years old or older and attend the presentation meeting.
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