The “yeas” edged out the “nays” by one vote (4-3), but just enough for the Vallejo City Council to greenlight a “participatory budgeting” project.
As we told you in our earlier Connecting the Dots posting, participatory budgeting (PB) is a cutting-edge process that offers Vallejo residents the unique and very powerful opportunity to discuss which issues are most important to them. They then chose the project for which they will be ultimately responsible, over a fifteen month period, to shepherd to completion.
The Council has earmarked 30 percent of Measure B funds (revenue from sales tax increase voters passed in 2011) for this PB process. This figure amounts to roughly $3.5M, $200K of which will be set aside to fund the process’ infrastructure costs which include staffing and such collaborative online tools as polling software (used to gather resident feedback).
Should the Vallejo community embrace this concept in a way that reflects the city’s diversity, it will certainly be a feather in its cap, giving its’ brand much-needed credibility. “An informed citizenry makes a stronger community” says Councilmember Stephanie Gomes, who along with Councilmembers Marti Brown, Bob Sampayan and Robert McConnell voted in favor of implementing PB. Brown adds “I can’t think of a better way to rebuild the trust that was lost during bankruptcy and avoid it in the future than by having an informed citizenry and a transparent budgeting process.”
Council members Hermie Sunga and Erin Hannigan along with Mayor Osby Davis opposed the process. They voice concerns about whether Measure B funds can legitimately be spent in this fashion (Sunga and Davis) and if the process will attract enough diverse segments of Vallejo’s population (Hannigan).
We are onboard to capture each and every step in this exciting venture. Fortunately one of our readers is a resident of Chicago’s 49th Ward (Rogers Park) and is currently very active in its PB process. He is willing to share his insights with us, and we look forward, in the near future, to sharing them with you.
So stay tuned!