Participatory Budgeting update

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Participatory-Budgeting-Flyer-emailOn January 27 we held the first forum on Participatory Budgeting, a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a city budget. We’ll look to hold a second meeting within the next month or so.

We saw a presentation by Ginny Browne of the Participatory Budgeting Project, and she answered questions from the 50 non-city people in attendance.

We asked people in attendance to consider three main questions in small-group discussions about what a participatory budgeting program could look like in Seattle. Here’s a summary of what we heard:

1. What would be the benefits and drawbacks to a citywide vs. district-based model?

Support for using district councils; boundaries should depend on desired outcomes; districts are best at first, citywide could be done later; it might be better to look at proposal over a longer time period; no conclusion, use district councils or existing neighborhood identities.

2. What kinds of funds should be used, and what kinds of project eligible?

Consolidate city grants; use a hybrid system, with some funds dedicated to youth, as in Boston;  some funding could be at-large; capital projects have more impact than programs unless substantial funds are available; allow for multi-district projects.

3. What would be needed to make a Seattle PB process as accessible, inclusive, and equitable as possible?

Print in multiple languages; go to places like churches and schools; use existing grant infrastructure;  involve marginalized communities, and account for culture; need equal distribution; use best practices from other cities re: equity and accessibility; have small test cases with communities that don’t usually participate in city programs; the location and time of gatherings is important, for seniors, non-English speakers, and transit-dependent persons.

The materials used in the meeting are linked below:

Participatory Budgeting Project Presentation

Seattle community grants power point

Longer narrative description of Seattle community grant programs

2015 CNC – City Council Leg Districts Map Overlay 1.2015