SARATOGA SPRINGS — After weeks of work, the Saratoga Springs Participatory Budgeting Committee will hold an online public vote beginning Saturday that will help determine how approximately $100,000 of the city’s operating budget should be spent next year.
Voters 18 and over will have an opportunity to weigh in on nine projects that range from smaller-scale community events to larger infrastructure projects that were submitted by organizations and individuals in recent months.
Voting for the first round of participatory budgeting runs through Dec. 11.
This is the first time the city has included participatory budgeting as part of its budget-making process. Lawmakers set aside 0.25% of the city’s total $57 million operating budget, the equivalent of approximately $100,000. The City Council will make the final funding decision later this month.
Minita Sanghvi, the city’s commissioner of finance, introduced the concept earlier this year in hopes of giving residents a greater voice in how tax dollars are spent.
“Our democracy works best with direct participation from the public,” she said in a statement. “People will often come to City Hall with problems they’ve identified — now they are coming with solutions to these problems. It’s a win-win for the public, community and city.”
Projects on the ballot include:
- Installing a water fountain at the Saratoga Dog Park at 10 Crescent St. for $19,000.
- A proposal submitted by Bikeatoga to create a bike repair program throughout the city for $19,500.
- An urban forestry project submitted by Sustainable Saratoga that includes planting native and near-native shade trees at various locations throughout the city for $15,000.
- Art programs for underserved and marginalized youth hosted by CREATE Saratoga for $12,000.
- A proposal by Saratoga Arts to host family-friendly Broadway LIve Musical Theater in Congress Park on a Sunday afternoon for $14,100.
- A native flower planting project that would replace the annual flowers planted downtown and city entrances with perennial plants native to the Northeast for $4,500.
- A pilot that seeks to encourage the sport of curling in Saratoga Springs at 30 Weibel Ave. for $2,500.
- A community garden that would be installed at the Jefferson and Vanderbilt Terraces community from $7,000.
- An outdoor ice skating area at Congress Park from $2,500.
Residents will be able to vote for up to five projects. Additional information on each project can be found at: pbstanford.org/2022-saratoga-ny/ranking.
Mary Ryckman, chairwoman of the Participatory Budgeting Committee, said in a statement that the process encourage residents to suggest ideas to help improve their neighborhood.
“It is inclusive and I think it is important because the participatory budget process creates a feeling of working together to build our community,” she said.
For more information on the participatory budget process can be found on the city’s website.
The ballot for voting will be available from Dec. 3 to 11 at: pbstandrod.org/2022-saratoga-ny.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.