April 16, 2012: For many American cities, the budget process is basically fiscal hell, and the politics of plugging potholes and funding schools akin to legislative purgatory. But a tiny miracle just arrived in New York City. Communities are experimenting with Participatory Budgeting, a system for giving local people a say in planning their budget priorities. While it's no magic bullet, the program marks a small step toward economic democracy in Gotham.
On April 14th, CVH members held a community forum with City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik. Over 50 low-income residents of the City of Poughkeepsie came to the Family Partnership Center to ask Mayor Tkazyik what the City of Poughkeepsie was doing to deal with their issues. CVH members gave personal testimony and asked the Mayor specific questions about the City's role in: Housing, Job Creation, Community Development, Youth Programs, and Public Transportation.
The CVH Newburgh chapter marched to City Hall with over 60 residents on May 25th, sending a message to New York State that the failing local government needs their help in order to survive! This year's budget for the City of Newburgh was balanced by raising property taxes 71%, cutting services 20%, and getting $12 million in emergency loans from New York State.