In a new article about the City of Cambridge (USA) PB programme, that saw $600,000 distributed last year the focus was on the role that city officials and community budget delegates play in refining ideas before they get on the ballot.
This follows some controversy that half the money distributed last year went on one new public toilet. Yet the story reflects the truth that PB is all about creating conversations between the community and public officials that serve them.
“It is kind of daunting to try and organize this,” Michelle Monsegur, city budget analyst who is helping to facilitate the program with the budget office, said. “It’s a lot of work not just for the budget office but for the departments who are helping answer research questions or respond to things. There’s a lot that goes on into the back end.”
As reported online by the Boston University News website:
"Late last year Cambridge launched its pilot program, joining other US cities like Chicago and New York which have established similar budget projects that ask citizens how they want to spend some public funds. The goal was to increase civic engagement and respond directly to community needs. During the city’s first round, 380 submissions lead to six new community development projects including plans for a public restroom in Central Square, 100 new trees, and laptops for the city’s community learning center….
…Monsegur admits that the public toilet was the most polarizing item on the ballot, but said that there will be extensive discussion involved in selecting the safest and most visible place for the restroom.
Those who have been critical about the process are outnumbered, as Monsegur said “most of the feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive about participatory budgeting, especially after the vote,” and with that, she anticipates they’ll be able to keep expanding. “Our hope is to grow the funding by $100,000 every year…but it’s ultimately up to the city council,” Monsegur said."
Alongside the Cambridge process Boston is also been spearheading youth engagement through Boston Youth lead the change, that has seen $2m spent directly by young people, with the support of their mayor.
- Read the full article by Rachel Kashdan
- Find out about youth related PB programmes in Boston that engaged 1000s of young people.
- Facebook page of Bostons’ Youth PB