Oct. 15, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Council Member Karen Koslowitz will not be setting aside any funds for participatory budgeting next year given the pandemic-related budget woes and her desire to complete outstanding capital projects, she said Wednesday.
Koslowitz told Community Board 6 last night that she will instead use what little discretionary funds she receives on a number of projects she hopes to finish before leaving office at the end of next year due to time limits.
She said she would prioritize funding for building the new Rego Park Library branch — a project she has been pushing for since the 1990s — since money is tight, she said.
She also will use her funds to support the Richmond Hill Library branch and a number of school improvement projects, she said during the community board meeting last night.
“As you know this is a very very tough year budget-wise… and we’re in a very bad way,” Koslowitz told board members. “This year I’m not going to do participatory budgeting at all.”
Participatory budgeting gives local residents a chance to have input on how taxpayer money should be used in their neighborhoods. Residents can suggest and vote on what infrastructure projects and improvements they would like to see funded.
In the past, Koslowitz has put $1 million aside each year for participatory budgeting. Residents have voted to use those funds on a number of capital projects, such as renovating aging bathrooms at public schools to upgrading district libraries.
However, she said she doesn’t know how much discretionary funding she will receive from the City Council when the next budget is decided.
Instead she will put whatever money she does receive from the Council toward projects she wants to get going or finish before she leaves office, such as the Rego Park Library.
“Since this is going to be my last budget, I have projects that I have to take care of such as the Rego Park Library, which we’ve been dealing with since 1993 and the Richmond Hill Library, which needs to be done and many other projects in the schools that I have been involved in,” she said at the CB6 meeting.
Not all council members engage in participatory budgeting. Last year, 33 out of 51 members opted into the program.