On last week’s episode of the Sacramento City Council Chronicles, members of the Measure U committee presented a recommendation to the City Council to set aside funds for both Participatory Budgeting and an annual citywide poll to determine residents’ needs and priorities for Measure U expenditures. Participatory Budgeting empowers people to decide together how to spend public money and is a process that will deepen democracy, build stronger communities, and make the city budget more equitable and effective for ALL residents. The process gives people, especially those living in some of the most vulnerable communities in Sacramento, the opportunity to have direct input and decision-making ability into what types or projects and programs are funded.
The Committee did an excellent job of presenting the need for Participatory Budgeting and the annual city poll explaining how the City would benefit by giving voice to those often left out of funding decisions and ultimately building up trust between the City Council and residents.
The Measure U Committee specifically recommended that:
The Mayor and Council allocate $25,000 to pay for city-wide polling to be completed by October 31, 2020 so that the results can inform mid-year adjustments to the annual budget
A standardized polling process be used, but that underserved and underrepresented neighborhoods and communities be oversampled to ensure that no communities are left behind
That this body institutionalize annual Measure U Polling in conjunction with the Participatory Budgeting process and embed a budget line item for this process of at least $25,000 per year
The Measure U Community Advisory Committee be engaged in drafting and reviewing polling questions
After the presentation, there were callers both in opposition and in support. E-comments were also submitted with 30 in support of Participatory Budgeting and only 5 in opposition.
Councilmembers Carr and Harris had some concerns about not fully understanding everything Participatory Budgeting involves, but did express the desire to receive additional information. Warren expressed support for Participatory Budgeting and pointed out the experience of members on the Measure U committee to be able to provide such a recommendation. Jennings requested a workshop on the Participatory Budgeting process to provide additional education and he also expressed support for a pilot program. Lastly, the Mayor enthusiastically supported participatory budgeting and believes the community should have a say on a discrete amount of money which would empower the broader community by having a direct input in some of the budget decision making. The Mayor also stated Participatory Budgeting has the potential to create more trust and a bond between elected officials, city government and the community.
At the Mayors’ request the next steps include taking $5 million to set aside for consideration to conduct the first Participatory Budgeting project in Sacramento.
The Measure U committee will work with the Mayor to devise a workplan outlining the entire process and scope of work it will take to conduct a meaningful and effective participatory budgeting project. Once all of the information is gathered, a more specific proposal will be brought back to Council.