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NE Queens councilmen reveal participatory budget results

Winning projects from the week of participatory budgeting were announced by northeast Queens City Council members this week, which mostly included upgrades to public schools.

Bayside High School got the most votes in Councilman Paul Vallone’s (D-Bayside) district for a new $400,000 music studio for students in the career and technical education program for music production and performance. Out of the roughly 2,300 people who cast votes in Vallone’s district, the studio was marked on 1,430 of their ballots.

It was Vallone’s first year administering participatory budgeting in his district, which is an option allowing city councilors to leave it to their communities to decide how about $1 million in city discretionary funds are spent.

Due to strong community outreach, Vallone’s office managed to nearly double the participation in his district from when former Councilman Dan Halloran got 1,170 people out for the vote in 2013.

“The results clearly show the district overwhelmingly supported the process, and we are proud to commit to participatory budgeting for every year I am privileged to represent this great district,” Vallone said.

Vallone touted the eight-month task of working with community members and organizations to design small capital projects as a great way to engage people in civics, especially young people.

To participate, northeast Queens residents did not have to be registered voters. They only had to be 16 or older and show proof of residency. A big push to get teenagers to the polls at the high school meant strong support for school investments.

With 1,041 votes, PS 169 was awarded a $400,000 project for a new sound system and to replace lighting, curtains and seating in its auditorium, which is shared with the BELL Academy.

PS 159 was awarded a $90,000 technology upgrade to finance new SMART boards and laptops for classrooms, which got 934 votes.

Another 880 votes allotted $105,000 for the New York City Police Department to install three security cameras throughout the council district.

See complete story at TimesLedger.