SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The City of Saratoga Springs’ Participatory Budgeting Committee held its first public vote for round one of projects from December 3-11. The pilot program, which was introduced to Saratoga Springs by Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi, has received an overwhelmingly positive response in its first year.

The city reviewed 20 proposals from individuals and organizations. The Participatory Budgeting Committee along with Finance, Public Works, and Recreation reviewed all 20, considering cost, public benefit, feasibility, and need. Nine projects were placed on the ballot for residents to vote on. The final step in the process is for the City Council to decide which projects receive funding—an item on the agenda for the council’s December 20 meeting.

Since all nine projects together cost $96,000, the Participatory Budgeting Committee recommended that all nine be funded with the available $100,000 in the assignment. The committee also recommended that the City Council assign an additional $142,500 for the 2023 Participatory Budgeting (PB) process, as per the original proposal submitted by Commissioner Sanghvi, especially given the positive response to this initiative.

“The response to PB from our community has been incredibly positive,” said Committee Chair, Mary Estelle Ryckman. “Participatory Budgeting makes people feel included. The Committee was unanimous in its recommendation that the City Council fund all nine of the projects and agree to replenish the budget assignment for next year’s PB process.”

There were 846 votes cast, which is about 3.5% of the city’s residents over 18. Typically, localities can expect a 1-2% response rate in the first year of Participatory Budgeting.

“The fact that in our first year we surpassed the typical voting participation levels shows how much our community values this process,” said Committee Vice Chair, Noah Brennan. “Our response rate was excellent!”

“I am so glad to see Participatory Budgeting embraced by our community,” stated Commissioner of Finance, Minita Sanghvi. “These are wonderful projects impacting many different members of our community and will be a great addition to the quality of life in our city.”

Results:

RankProjectIndividual/GroupTotal Votes
1Urban Forestry ProjectGroup614
2Outdoor ice skating at Congress ParkIndividual508
3Community GardenIndividual489
4Youth Art ProgramsGroup458
5Native Flower PlantingIndividual427
6Broadway Live Musical TheaterGroup370
7Community Free Bike RepairGroup287
8Saratoga Dog Park Water FountainIndividual231
9Curling PilotIndividual186
Data provided by the City of Saratoga Springs’ Participatory Budgeting Committee.

Distribution of votes:

Age GroupVotes
18-2451
25-3474
35-44140
45-54159
55-64166
65-74200
75-8458
85+5
Data provided by the City of Saratoga Springs’ Participatory Budgeting Committee.