Discretionary funding is a duly appropriated sum of money in the City’s expense budget allocated to an eligible not-for-profit organization by the Council or a Member of the Council under section 1-02(e) of the rules of the Procurement Policy Board (PPB). PPB Rule 1-02(e) allows certain elected officials – including Council Members and Borough Presidents (but not the Mayor or City agencies) – to designate specific not-for-profit organizations to receive funding as an alternative to funding programs through competitive procurement.
All public funds, however awarded, must be used for a public purpose. In general, a public purpose is defined as an activity or service that is open to all members of the public, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, etc., without restriction, and which does not promote a particular religion.
Types of Discretionary Funding:
There are several categories of discretionary funding used by the City Council, each serving different purposes. The following categories have developed through Council practice over the years, and are subject to change in the future.
Member Local Initiatives: Each Member of the Council receives an amount each year to be used at the Member’s discretion to meet local needs in the Member’s district. These are referred to as “local initiatives”. Borough Delegations also allocate funding. Various factors including local needs, the Member’s request, and other considerations determine the amount. Uses of local initiative funding are not limited to any particular purpose or agency, except as otherwise restricted by Council policy, PPB rules, and applicable law.
City Council Local Initiatives: Organizations may apply for funding directly to the Speaker, or Members may request that the Speaker fund an organization whose scope of services exceeds their individual ability to fund, or which serves a larger geographical area. This is often referred to as the “Speaker’s list.”
Member Aging Discretionary Funds: Each Member receives an annual amount to fund senior services in his or her district through the Department for the Aging.
Member Youth Discretionary Funds: Each Member also receives an annual amount for the provision of services for youth or community development through the Department of Youth and Community Development.
Anti-Poverty Initiative: Council Members receive additional discretionary funding based on the number of people in their districts below the Federal Poverty Line; compiled by the American Community Survey (ACS). ACS is a continuous survey that individuals respond to throughout the year. Poverty statistics presented in ACS reports and tables adhere to the standards specified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Based on these figures, Council Members will receive additional funds ranging from $25,000 (Lowest Poverty Figures) to $100,000 (Highest Poverty Figures) in $25,000 increments.
Member Community Safety & Awareness Initiative: Council Members receive an annual amount to provide programming and services that promote community/public safety and awareness. As well as to promote community fellowship, civic engagement and improved relations between law enforcement and the neighborhood.
Citywide Initiatives: The Council may also initiate programs for the purpose of addressing community needs that it feels are lacking by existing Agency programming. To extend the reach of agency programs to underserved communities or populations. In most cases, the Council will provide funding to specific not-for-profit providers. Initiatives are usually citywide in scope, although they may focus on high-need communities or populations. The method of allocating funding varies by initiative and is at the discretion of the Council.