Excerpted from Manual for Participation in the Budget Process, Office of
Community Board Relations, Office of Management & Budget, Office of the
Summary of Community Board Participation in the Budget
Under the City Charter, community boards are given a broad range
of responsibilities for advising the City about local budget needs and
priorities. The Charter mandates that the community boards consult with
agencies on the capital and expense budget needs of the district, hold public
hearings, prepare capital and expense budget priorities for the next fiscal year
and react to the funding choices presented in the preliminary budget. To
meet these mandates, a dynamic formal structure was created which allows the
City’s communities to make their needs known to agency decision makers and the
Mayor. This assures that local neighborhood opinion is considered when the
City allocates its resources and services.
The Office of Community Board Relations within the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB), oversees procedures that assure community boards actively and
effectively participate in forming he City’s budgets. The following
outlines the essential feature of this process.
The City's Budget
New York City’s budget year begins on July
1st and ends on June 30th. The total budget consists
of three components. First comes the Revenue Budget which is the
City’s best estimate of how much money will be available during the fiscal year
to support operating expenditures and capital improvement projects. These
include all tax and non-tax funds expected to be received during the fiscal
The Expense Budget covers all the City’s day to day operations such as
salaries and supplies as well as debt service. It is supported by City
taxes, fees and other local revenues as well as state and federal aid. The
Contract Budget lists categories of contractual services.
The Capital Budget covers the cost of the City’s long term
construction program, purchases of land and large equipment.
Reconstruction of streets, sewers, parks and buildings are examples of capital
projects. Capital budget items are financed by the sale of municipal bonds
as well as by state and federal grants.
The Community Development Program allocates federal money for long
term physical improvements, public services and related activities that chiefly
benefit low and moderate income persons.
An Overview of the Community Board Budget Process
representatives of local communities, boards are most concerned with City
Spending that affects the quality of life for residents and workers in their
districts. The process by which the community boards participate in
formulating the City’s budgets has six major elements which represent a real
opportunity for boards to impact the decisions that are made about projects and
programs for their community.
1. Consultations between the community boards and City agencies that
deliver local services.
From May through early October, community
boards have two formal opportunities to consult with agency officials about
budget needs and the funding of programs and projects. The agencies that
formally consult with the boards are the Department of Aging, Buildings,
Business Services/Economic Development, Administration for Children’s Services,
Environmental Protection, Fire, Human Resources Administration, Homeless
Services, Housing Preservation and Development, Parks Police, Sanitation and
Transportation. Consultations take places at the two levels described
below. These formal meetings give both the agencies and the boards an
opportunity to opwenly discuss the criteria used in making difficult spending
District Level:> In late Spring, district managers and
committee members meet with te agency’e local representatives to discuss the
needs of the district, the current level of service delivery and the resources
needed to meet those needs.
Borough Level:> During
September and early October, boards in each borough meet with agency
commissioners to discuss long range needs, important budget requests,
operational issues, agency policy choices and fiscal constraints.
Borough consultations let community boards present their needs and budget
suggestions while at the same time letting top agency decision makers explain
the difficult spending choices they must make in times of fiscal
2. Public Hearings held by the Community Board.
hold at least two public budget hearing each year.
September/October:> At the time the Board is
developing specfic budget priorities to submit to City agencies, tehe public
has the chance to identify community district needs and the board gets
January/February:> An opportunity for
the public to react to the policies in the just released Preliminary
Budget. This hearing forms the basis for the community board's
Statement on the Preliminary Budget , which tells City officials how
the community feels about the City's budget choices.
3. Formal Budget Submissions.
By the date announced by OMB, usually
late October, boards formally submit their budget requests to City agencies and
OMB as the agencies begin preparing their next year’s budget. Both the
capital and expense budgets impact on community districts so community boards
develop and vote separate priorities for up to 40 capital requests and up to 25
expense budget requests. Budget submissions consist of three components:
i. Requests for funding in the Capital Budget for physical
improvements to the City’s infrastructure and public facilities, for land
acquisition and major equipment.
ii. Requests for funding in the
Expense Budget for programs and personnel.
iii. Community Board
Service Program Rankings where boards indicate the general importance of
services to their community by ranking 85 programs provided by 26 agencies.
4. Agency Review of Board Budget Requests.
boards submit their requests, City agencies review them thoroughly. Agency
funding recommendations are reflected in the City’s Preliminary Budget and
Departmental Estimates which are published by January 16th.
Agency responses to each community board budget request are published by OMB in
the Register of Community Board Budget Requests for the Preliminary
Budget. Boards then have the opportunity to respond to agency
decisions in their Statement on the Preliminary Budget which is due one
5. OMB Review of Board Budget Requests.
For the Mayor’s
Executive Budget published on April 26th, these same budget requests
are evaluated by the OMB. OMB funding recommendations are published in
the Register of Community Board Budget Requests for the Executive Budget
6. Public Hearings at which the Boards Testify
Testifying lets the
boards try to advance projects which were not recommended by the agencies or the
Mayor’s Offfice of Management and Budget.
February:> Hearings held by the Borough Boards prior to
submitting Borough Board Budget Priorities and Borough President submissions
to the Executive Budget.
March and May: City Council hearings on the Preliminary and
The Register of Community Board Budget Requests for the Adopted
Budget, which reflects the outcome of Community Board budget requests, is
published after the City Council finalizes the budget.
Assessing Community District Needs
Community board participation in the budget process is a year-round
activity. Even before the budget is adopted, the simultaneous process of
considering budget requests for the next cycle year begins.
Assessing community needs is one of the most important and useful activities
performed by community boards in determining the district’s service and budget
requests. This should be an on-going activity which requires the
involvement of each board member and committee. Personal observations,
published surveys, public hearings, discussion with local service chiefs and the
use of community records as minutes from the District Service Cabinet and the
other district office complaint log can help in identifying patterns or areas of
problems within the community.
The board can then determine if the identified problem can be addressed by
reallocating existing resources or through a request for capital or expense
budget funds. Throughout this process, an understanding of overall City
and agency funding priorities and constraints will help your board as you match
board budget proposals to available funds.
The board's long range needs are presented to City decision makers in the
Statement of Community District Needs which is published by the
Department of City Planning within a framework of information detailing
demographics and community facilities.
Geographic Information for Community Boards
The more the boards know, the more effectively they can participate in
developing the City’s budgets. To this end, OMB publishes expense budget
and service infomraiton sorted two ways – by agency and by district. THe
first gives the Citywide picture for the agency and the second shows community
and borough allocations of money, people and equipment. Boards can find
out the number of people assigned to their district, what they do, how much they
are paid, the equipment assigned to the district and contract services for
agencies which provide local level services. Indicators of agency
performance are also included. This information is found in the
District Resource Statement and the Geographic Reports for the
OMB also publishes several forms of geographic capital information so that
community boards know which projects are being funded in their districts, how
much they will cost and when implementation is planned for each phase of the
project. The Geographic Reports for the Capital Budget are
published with the release of each budget phase. The Capital Commitment
Plan details the projects planned for the next four years. The
Geographic Capital Project Detail Data Report breaks down each capital
budget project into its component parts. The Planning timing and the cost
of each phase of a project is available to the community boards.
Combining formal budget participation mechanism with increased availability
of geographic information gives the community boards the opportunity to
influence agency and OMB budget decisions about the allocation of scarce