By Jonathan Sperling
The city’s 59 community boards are getting a leg up when it comes to making budget requests for their districts’ needs thanks to a new online platform unveiled by the Department of City Planning Tuesday.
A new webtool, named Community District Priorities, allows for community boards to formally submit their annual needs and budget requests to the city. The tool also provides easier access to relevant city data, such as DCP’s Population FactFinder, to make a stronger case for these requests.
“Community Boards are an essential element of our city’s budgeting process. So DCP is especially pleased to provide New York City’s diverse Community Boards with enhanced tools to smartly and efficiently advocate their neighborhood’s needs — whether it be affordable housing, school seats, bike lanes, a health clinic, better street cleaning, or any other City service,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago in a statement.
The new webtool comes at a time when Community Boards across the city, including the 14 located in Queens, are about to submit their annual budget requests, due Oct. 31. Each board will hold public meetings in the early fall to finalize and vote on community issues, which range from affordable housing —the most frequently mentioned issue in 2018 — and schools to traffic and street flooding.
Last year’s final budget submissions for each Community Board can be found on DCP’s Community Portal site. The budget submissions for Fiscal Year 2021 are expected to be posted by January 2020, the preliminary budget is scheduled to be released on April 26, 2020 and the adopted budget is scheduled to be released on June 5, 2020.
The platform provides provides the following functions, according to DCP:
Access available from any computer with an internet connection
Links to relevant tools/sources, such as DCP’s Population FactFinder, as well as data from other agencies (school seats, crime statistics, health services), helping Community Boards describe and more fully substantiate their needs
More intuitive interface, for easy navigation between parts of a submission
Ability to ‘drag-and-drop’ budget requests into a prioritized order
Simpler printing and reporting, letting users more easily share drafts with board members and various stakeholders as well as post it on their websites
Secure collaboration, allowing multiple users to edit a document simultaneously
DCP will provide training and support to assist Community Boards in using the new system.