The City Of Los Angeles Tries Its Hand At Online Participatory Budgeting
March 5, 2012
Have you ever thought you could do a better job at balancing your city’s budget? Or thought you should have a say in how your tax money is spent? Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is giving the residents of LA the opportunity to have a say in their city’s budget direction.
How Citizens Are Impacting Budget Decisions
By clicking through 9 short pages of an online survey, LA residents can outline their priorities for spending and give ideas about private-public partnerships. This is the kind of participatory budget process that Phil Ting wrote about back in 2011. It educates and engages everyday residents to make important decisions about government priorities.
One question on the survey asks whether revenue should be generated through new technology for revenue collection, parcel tax, documentary transfer tax, parking occupancy tax, or a bed tax for hotels. By forcing an answer, residents are required to think through the best methods for saving money. Other questions look at where service reductions could be made and how to contain workforce costs.
What will the Participatory Budget Survey Reveal?
Residents have spent the last few weeks giving indications whether fire services or livable neighborhoods are of greater importance in the budget. The results of the survey will be announced at the Mayor’s Budget Day on Saturday, March 10 and will be available online. It will be interesting to see how influential the survey was on policy and whether residents really did have the participatory role.
Here at Reset we have been fans of a participatory budget process for a while. In 2011, Mayor Lee took a small step forward by introducing the San Francisco Budget Challenge. However, it was more of a game to teach San Francisco citizens about the difficulties of budget decision making rather than asking for input. The initiative in Los Angeles takes this one step further by hopefully listening to the response of residents. If the plan is a success, we hope to see progress in government 2.0 stimulated across California.