Civic Engagement Commission to Launch Citywide Participatory Budgeting
Dr. Sarah Sayeed (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
The first citywide participatory budgeting program is expected to launch later this year after a two-year delay largely due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, officials said at a City Council hearing last week.
The program was approved by voters in 2018 as one of three City Charter-mandated functions of the new Civic Engagement Commission (CEC) created in the same ballot referendum. The two-year participatory budgeting process, intended to give New Yorkers a more direct say in how some tax dollars are spent, will begin in "late summer," according to CEC Chair and Executive Director Dr. Sarah Sayeed.
"We are actively engaging multiple stakeholders through June 2022 to gather feedback on various aspects of the program…particularly around the use of civic tech, evaluation, and outreach and engagement strategies to ensure an inclusive process," Sayeed told members of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations on Friday. It was the first time the CEC has been the subject of an oversight hearing in the rocky three years since it was created through a charter revision commission assembled by former Mayor Bill de Blasio and approved by voters.
The Civic Engagement Commission has three specific responsibilities under the Charter: implementing citywide participatory budgeting; providing urban planning expertise to community boards; and assisting in language interpretation at poll sites. In 2021, then Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order to bring DemocracyNYC, another city office dedicated to boosting voter turnout and civic engagement, under the purview of the commission.