The Participatory Budget Committee met on Thursday afternoon to discuss a proposal to implement Participatory Budgeting in Greensboro.
Greensboro is looking to other cities that are launching a Participatory Budget and hopes that establishing such a program here would both restore public confidence in city government’s fiscal management and build social capital in communities.
The subcommittee is proposing that each of the five city districts would be allotted $100,000 in funds for projects that would be voted on by members of the community. Each district would host its own participatory budget meeting, open to the public, to decide how to use the funds.
Members of the subcommittee affirmed that the overall goal of Participatory Budgeting is to encourage the participation and involvement of the people of Greensboro.
Members discussed examples of the types of projects that could be funded through a Participatory Budget, and some members voiced concern about the limitations of citizen power within such a program. For large community projects like recreation centers, libraries or parks, budget decisions and funds are allocated years before ground is even broken.
Participatory Budgeting has seen positive results in some communities in which funds have been used to add sidewalks or improve conditions in neighborhood schools. The major challenge of Participatory Budgeting in Greensboro would be to ensure that a large and represntatively diverse group of citizens attend budget meetings in each district.
Members of the subcommittee unanimously agreed that they wanted to make a recommendation to City Council to start the Participatory Budget process in Greensboro beginning in 2016.