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Community Boards (CBs) & City Government
The City Council
The Borough President
Board Composition & Membership
The Borough Board
The Borough Service Cabinet
New Yorkers elect the Mayor, Borough Presidents, City Council Members, Public Advocate, and Comptroller. These officials are collectively responsible for overseeing City government, either directly or through their appointees. The City Charter defines the authority of each official or body, including community boards, and the relationships among them.
For more information on the City Charter, visit the NYC Charter Revision Commission's website.
The Mayor is the City's chief executive officer, setting the agenda for the City and its finances and appointing Deputy Mayors and heads of agencies to carry out policies. With regard to community boards, the Mayor ensures that City agencies cooperate with community boards in all matters affecting local services and complaints, proposes the level of financial support for community boards, and provides general assistance as needed.
For more information on the Mayor, visit the Mayor's home page.
The City Council is NYC's legislative body. There are 51 elected members, one from each council district. Besides enacting legislation, the City Council approves the City's budget and has oversight powers for the activities of City agencies. Council Members are closely involved with community boards in the districts they represent and serve as members of their boards' District Service Cabinets.
For more information on the City Council, visit New York City Council online.
The Borough President appoints the members of community boards for two-year terms, reviews and makes recommendations on ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) applications, maintains planning and budget offices, administers training to community board members and serves as chairperson of the Borough Board and Borough Service Cabinet.
For more information on NYC's Borough Presidents, visit their websites.
Community boards are local representative bodies. There are 59 community boards throughout the City, and each one consists of up to 50 unsalaried members, half of whom are nominated by their district's City Council members. Board members are selected and appointed by the Borough Presidents from among active, involved people of each community and must reside, work, or have some other significant interest in the community.
Each community board is led by a District Manager who establishes an office, hires staff, and implements procedures to improve the delivery of City services to the district. While the main responsibility of the board office is to receive complaints from community residents, they also maintain other duties, such as processing permits for block parties and street fairs. Many boards choose to provide additional services and manage special projects that cater to specific community needs, including organizing tenants associations, coordinating neighborhood cleanup programs, and more.
Community boards have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to:
Dealing with land use and zoning issues. CBs have an important advisory role and must be consulted on the placement of most municipal facilities in the community. Applications for a change in or variance from the zoning resolution must come before the board for review, and the board's position is considered in the final determination.
Assessing the needs of their own neighborhoods. CBs assess the needs of their community members and meet with City agencies to make recommendations in the City's budget process.
Addressing other community concerns. Any issue that affects part or all of a community, from a traffic problem to deteriorating housing, is a proper concern of community boards.
It is important to note that while community boards serve as advocates for their neighborhood, they do not have the ability to order any City agency or official to perform any task. Despite this limitation, boards are usually successful in resolving the problems they address.
Anyone can attend a community board meeting! Board meetings occur once a month and are open to the public. At these meetings, members address items of concern to the community and hear from attendees. Boards regularly conduct additional public hearings - on the City's budget, land use matters, etc. - to give community members the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns.
Board committees do most of the planning and work on the issues that are brought to action at community board meetings. Each community board establishes the committee structure and procedures it feels will best meet the needs of its district. Committees may be functional committees that deal with specific Charter mandates (e.g. "Land Use Review" and "Budget" committees) or agency committees that relate to a particular agency (e.g. "Police" and "Sanitation" committees), among other structures. Non-board members may apply to join or work on board committees, which helps provide additional expertise and manpower.
The Borough Board consists of the Borough President, Council Members representing the borough, and the chairpersons of all the community boards in the borough (who may vote only on matters directly affecting their community districts). The Borough Board has the power to initiate and review comprehensive or special purpose plans for the borough and is responsible for preparing a comprehensive statement of expenses and capital budget priorities for the borough as well as mediating any disputes between community boards.
The Borough Service Cabinet consists of the Borough President and borough officials that are appointed by the head of each City agency that delivers services to the borough. The Borough Service Cabinet coordinates service delivery functions and agency programs, considers interagency problems that impede delivery of City services, and consults with residents to plan and develop programs that address their needs and priorities.