May 5, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
City Council member Julie Won has announced that several schools in her district will receive funds totaling nearly $1 million from the participatory budgeting process in order to carry out upgrades.
Participatory budgeting is a process in which area residents can pitch ideas and vote on how to spend city funds on capital projects in their respective districts. The process aims to engage residents in the civic process by enabling them to make decisions in developing proposals and voting on community projects.
Nearly 2,000 residents voted in the process — from March 25 to April 2 — with Won announcing Thursday how the funds are to be allocated to schools in her 26th Council District, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and Long Island City.
Seven schools — P.S. 112, P.S. 166, P.S. 199, Q291, P.S./I.S.78, P.S. 343 and P.S. 361 — will each receive $75,000 for technology upgrades, with the total cost coming to $525,000.
In Astoria, P.S. 166Q will get the highest amount of funds, with $250,000 being allocated for upgrades to lighting and energy efficiency.
Finally, in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City, P.S. 166Q will get $150,000 for bathroom renovation.
The total amount of funds being allocated is $925,000.
Won said she was delighted with the level of voter turnout, with 1,925 voters making their voices heard.
“From idea collection to voting for projects, I was thrilled at the level of community engagement throughout the participatory budgeting process,” Won said. “Funding our schools continues to be one of my top priorities and these three winning projects will bring much-needed technology upgrades, bathroom renovations and lighting to our students.”
Residents were able to vote either online or at various voting sites set up by Won’s office. Residents ages 11 years and older were eligible to vote as long as they live, work or go to school in the district.
The projects are required to be “capital projects” that benefit the public and cost at least $50,000, with a life span of at least five years. Improvements to parks, libraries, public housing and public space can also be voted on and the projects must be located within the confines of the 26th Council District.
Won’s office held public meetings in the lead-up to the vote where residents pitched their proposals. Once proposals are determined a vote then takes place to determine the most popular projects.
The cycle for next year’s participatory budget starts in August. Won’s office will hold a series of information sessions throughout the district for residents to learn about the process and how they can get involved in idea collection or as become a budget delegate.
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