THE BRONX (PIX11) —  With New York City expected to slash services across the board amidst a budget shortfall, a uniquely New York program could become more important than ever.

Beginning Wednesday, New Yorkers can lobby the city directly to fund projects and improvements right in their neighborhoods. It is known as participatory budgeting. 

Residents can pitch plans from now through November to be funded from a $5 million pool of money set aside by the city. Then everyone– including those over the age of 11 and undocumented New Yorkers– vote late next spring on which projects get funded.

This is the first time New York has done citywide participatory budgeting. For the last few years many council members have had access to money to organize similar efforts in their districts.

Those hyper-local capital projects often resulted in things like a new security camera, school equipment, park renovations or even an overdue road repair.  The council program still continues.

“When you get a community engage typically, that community becomes a better community in my opinion,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.

Williams helped launch the idea of participatory budgeting while he was on the City Council.  At Wednesday’s kick-off event for the new citywide version, he said that while an austerity budget was far from a sure thing, participatory budgeting dollars will be extremely valuable to help identify local priorities.

“Communities know exactly what is best where things have not been spent on, where resources have not been put,” Williams said. “Let’s get their voices in there.”