The city will kick off its experiment with “participatory budgeting” with a series of public meetings later this month. Input from the meetings, along with the results of online surveys, will guide the expenditure of $45,000 in revenue generated by payment kiosks installed in municipal parking lots earlier this year. The money will be allocated geographically, with $15,000 going to projects in each of the city’s three business districts.
“The goal is really to see what the needs and interests community members have in each of the business districts and get them funded,” said Mayor Steve Noble.
Plans call for the projects to be funded by the end of the year. Depending on the logistics of the proposal, the projects may actually be implemented in 2019. The money could also fund multiple projects with a business district as long as the total cost does not exceed $15,000. Potential uses include beautification projects, new street furniture and other small-scale improvement projects.
At the public meetings, Noble said, participants would have a chance to present ideas, submit proposals or just brainstorm new ideas.
“It’s a very open and flexible process,” said Noble. “There are not a lot of rules.”
Money for the participatory budgeting will be drawn from revenue generated by off-street parking. During last year’s budget process, Noble pushed for and won Common Council approval for a plan to install meters in nine municipal lots that previously offered free parking. Initial plans called for $30,000 to be allocated to the participatory budgeting effort. The figure was based on half of the projected $60,000 in revenue generated by the municipal lots. Noble said that actual figures had outpaced projections and the city is now on track to reap between $75,000 and $80,000 in parking lot fees. In response, Noble said, the total allocation for the business districts had been bumped up to $45,000.
The city will accept submissions for potential projects until Aug. 31. To assist in the selection process the city will hold a “visioning session” in each business district. The first, for Midtown, will take place on Monday, Aug. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall at 420 Broadway. Uptown will have a chance to weigh in on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The forum will take place at the Hudson Valley LQBTQ Community Center at 300 Wall St. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. A forum will be held downtown on Tuesday, Aug. 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hudson River Maritime Museum on the Strand. Participants can also submit ideas online at www.kingston-ny.gov/ParticipatoryBudgeting or by mail or in person at City Hall.