New York City Budget: Bringing Dollars Back to the Neighborhood

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Council recently agreed to a $47 billion budget and everyone involved took credit for their role in giving out tax breaks and providing funding for things like libraries and senior citizen centers.

But buried deep within the thick budget documents are the individual items that City Council members really care about: the individual grants for local projects, cultural institutions, and community groups.

These initiatives - often called "member items" - represent the most tangible results of what a council member has done for the people in their district.

Council members can give money to struggling arts group, fund an after-school program, or even help a little league team buy new uniforms. The member items can also go a long way toward earning support from different groups in the next election.

Gotham Gazette asked all 51 New York City Council members to provide information on what they brought home to their district out of the $47 billion budget and specifically for a list of member items.

We received a wide variety of responses.

Brooklyn Councilmember Diana Reyna focused on large new construction projects like a $500,000 health center to be built in Williamsburg.

Forest Hills Councilmember Melinda Katz provided a detailed list of small grants to organizations including the $3,000 she secured for a local Memorial Day parade.

Canarsie Councilmember Lew Fidler said he did not feel comfortable giving all of the details because community groups who did not receive funds may feel left out.

And Flushing Councilmember John Liu rejected the idea that member items really exist, arguing that the council arrives at a budget as a body.

"I don't have anything that's called member items," said Liu. "There are local initatives that are suggested strongly by a council member."

Most City Council members have yet to respond.

Gotham Gazette has posted the information provided by City Council members and added some dollar amounts based on information from budget documents. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Click on the following headlines to learn more about budget items for each neighborhood.

Upper West Side:
$500,000 for P.S. 191 and half a dozen other budget items.
(Councilmember Gale Brewer - District 6)

East Harlem:
$1 million to renovate M.S. 45 and four other items. (Councilmember Phil Reed - District 8)

Riverdale, Kingsbridge:
$900,000 of Kingsbridge library and a dozen other items.
(Councilmember Oliver Koppel - District 11)

South Bronx:
$350,000 for running track at St. Mary's Park and half a dozen other items.
(Councilmember Jose Serrano - District 17)

Kew Gardens:
$700,000 for a soccer field in Rufus King Park and half a dozen other items.
(Councilmember James Gennaro - District 24)

Forest Hills:
$395,000 for renovations of Queens Library and more than a dozen other items.
(Councilmember Melinda Katz - District 29)

Williamsburg, Bushwick:
$500,000 for a new health center and half a dozen other items
(Councilmember Diana Reyna - District 34)

Fort Green and Prospect Heights:
$25,000 for the West Indian American Day Carnival and a dozen other items
(Councilmember Letitia James - District 35)

East New York and Brownsville:
$2.5 million for Linden Community Center and a dozen other items
(Councilmember Charles Barron - District 42)

Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst:
$1 million for New Utrecht High School and more than a dozen other items.
(Councilmember Vincent Gentile - District 43)

Southeast Brooklyn:
$20,000 for the Bergen Beach Youth Organization and a dozen other items.
(Councilmember Lew Fidler - District 46)