Letter to the Editor: Bring participatory budgeting to Bay Ridge

Recently, 22 members of the New York City Council announced that they will incorporate participatory budgeting in their districts as part of the decision making for the 2015-2016 city budget.

This is great news for the people throughout the five boroughs and the 43 percent of the districts that are involving the people they represent in the budget process. However, it is my belief that this number should be even higher, and that all New York City residents should have that chance.

There is no downside, as far as I can tell, in allowing the taxpayers of the greatest city in the world, in the best and most powerful democracy ever created, to have input in how their tax dollars are spent in their communities.

I can think of no better way to decide what needs improvement than to talk to the people who go to our parks, schools, libraries, senior centers and more. All 51 council districts should welcome participatory budgeting in their communities.

I remember, during the 2013 campaign, residents of the 43rd District regularly made suggestions about funding priorities. Many folks hoped for the idea of building more senior housing, and others wanted improved accessibility at senior centers. Many others spoke of the needs in their childÂ’s school, and one mother of a disabled child sought accommodations for the handicapped in the local park.

It was after conversations like these that I embraced the idea of participatory budgeting.

If elected, I would have been number 23 on the list, and participatory budgeting would be welcomed in the 43rd District. I stand by those words for the future.

Unfortunately, our current councilmember has not agreed to this form of budget decision-making, while the 43rd District is surrounded by participatory budgeting and councilmembers who see the merit in such a practice. It is my hope that the people of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach will one day soon also have the chance to decide how our taxes are spent so to improve our quality of life.

I would encourage you to let your voice be heard. There should be nothing that stands in the way of this opportunity.

John Quaglione was the 2013 Republican, Conservative and Independence candidate for New York City Council in the 43rd District.

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