Common Council Makes Moves to Bring PB to Buffalo!

July 22, 2014

Common Council to Explore Participatory Budgeting in Buffalo

New group will develop recommendations for implementing process in the Queen City



BUFFALO, NY – The Common Council voted unanimously today to establish a working group to learn more about Participatory Budgeting and develop recommendations for implementing the process in Buffalo. Participatory Budgeting is a different way to manage public money, and to engage people in government. It is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It was first developed in Brazil in 1989 and there are now over 1,000 participatory budgets around the world used by counties, states, housing authorities, schools, universities and other public agencies. The resolution tasks a dynamic working group with learning more about the process.

“I am pleased to sponsor, along with my colleagues in the Buffalo Common Council, the establishment of a committee for the purpose of implementing a Participatory Budgeting process in the city of Buffalo, similar to what currently exists in other successful municipalities throughout the county,” said Councilmember Michael J. LoCurto.  “As evidenced by the full support of the Buffalo Common Council, participatory budgeting is an empowering tool that the City of Buffalo can utilize to engage city of Buffalo residents on how to spend public money, while simultaneously strengthening communities and deepening democracy.”

“This is a process we hope will grow, amplifying the voice and will of the people to get things accomplished that are most meaningful to their community,” said Councilmember Rasheed N.C. Wyatt.

“We are constantly looking for ways to get our residents more involved in local government and I believe participatory budgeting is a key process to getting more people involved, especially those populations that have historically have been disengaged or even prevented from participating in democracy, said Councilmember David Rivera. “Democracy is the one place where there are never too many cooks in the kitchen and I look forward to having more Buffalonians involved in local government.”

“Buffalo has an opportunity to join New York City, Chicago, Boston, and over 1,500 cities around the world in giving residents real power over real money, said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization that supports participatory budgeting across the US. “For over two years, community groups and officials in Buffalo have been laying the groundwork for participatory budgeting. With the White House now promoting participatory budgeting as a model for civic engagement, this is an ideal time for Buffalo to take public engagement to the next level.”


“I’m looking for to coming together so that we can see the outcomes we want in our neighborhood, said Tangia Delk, a city of Buffalo resident who attended the Participatory Budgeting conference in 2013. “Let’s budget together, listen to one another, and do right by this money and our community.”

The resolution is the culmination of many years of organizing and local learning about participatory budgeting. In 2012, now New York City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito who has implemented PB in her council district visited Buffalo and spoke with the Common Council and local community groups. The city has also hosted Josh Lerner, director of the Participatory Budgeting Project. In 2013, a delegation of community leaders and organizations led by the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York traveled to Chicago to attend the Participatory Budgeting Conference. The trip was supported by Councilmember Michael J. LoCurto, David A. Rivera, and Joseph Golombek, Jr.

Clean Air: Organizing for Health and Justice is a grassroots environmental health and justice organization that works throughout the region to improve public health, the environment and our democracy.

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