BY TRONE DOWD
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) announced the 2018 winners of the annual participatory budgeting vote for his district on Thursday morning at Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights alongside students, school staff and members of the community.
This year marked the fourth time that Miller has brought participatory budgeting to his constituents, allowing them the chance to vote directly for which capital projects they want to see in their neighborhoods. This year, more than $1.6 million was allocated towards participatory budgeting that will go toward projects throughout the 27th Council District.
All five of the 12 projects selected for funding this year were school related—PS 176, PS 360, PS 37 and the York Early College Academy are all set to receive $300,000 for a mobile laptop cart and laptop computers for students. The second project that was funded included $375,000 in auditorium upgrades for PS 176, PS 37 and IS 8.
The third and fourth projects on the list include a $400,000 gym upgrade as well as a $500,000 football field upgrade for the Campus Magnet Complex. Lastly, $100,000 will go towards water fountains with bottle refilling stations for PS 15, PS 37, PS/MS 147 and PS 360.
According to the councilman’s office, more than 1,900 voters took part in the process this year. Unlike most elections in the city, residents as young as 11 years old were able to go to their local district office, senior center, house of worship or school to cast their vote. An online option was also available.
Miller, who was one of the earliest adopters of the annual tradition, said that participatory budgeting is one of the most significant ways for Southeast Queens residents to engage in local politics. Last year, he told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that the process helps to develop the “next generation of leaders.”
“This program has helped organize residents, so they have a unified voice in this multi-billion dollar budget,” Miller said. “Every year, the number of submitted projects and participants has grown because people realize these projects will have a direct impact on their families’ and neighbors’ quality of life.”