SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Saratoga Springs City Council voted on Wednesday to allocate $96,000 to nine projects submitted through the Participatory Budgeting Initiative, spearheaded by Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi. The funding was unanimously approved.
Participatory budgeting has been widely used in the United States—including in New York City, Chicago, Cambridge, and Greensboro. Though elements vary by municipality, participatory budgeting is a way to engage communities and promote small-scale projects that improve public life.
In Saratoga Springs, the process encourages local community members to participate in the city’s budget process by voting on how to spend a portion, 0.25%, of the city’s total budget. The Committee received a total of 20 submission from groups and individuals for cycle one; with proposed projects ranging from smaller-scale community events to larger infrastructure projects throughout the city.
There were nine total projects on the ballot, and public voting was held from December 3 to December 11. For the city of Saratoga Springs, the last step was the city council’s decision.
Commissioner of Finance, Minita Sanghvi, is thrilled that the City Council has agreed with the recommendation of the Participatory Budgeting Committee. “Each and every project will add value to our city and community,” stated Sanghvi. “This was a pilot project and in the new year the committee will come together to figure out what we’ve learned, what needs to be tweaked, and we hope we can garner even more public interest and proposals for the next cycle.”
Committee Chair, Mary Estelle Ryckman, echoed a similar excitement for the outcome. “This is a terrific new process to encourage participation by our residents,” she said. “We look forward to working with the city to follow through on implementation. I’d like to note that not only did the usually civically active residents ages 55-75 vote, but we also had 18-34 year olds vote. The committee is eager to engage even more residents in next year’s round of participatory budgeting.”