Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting
In 2016 and 2017, La Crosse has allocated $1.5 million dollars - $750K each year - to infrastructure projects decided by selected neighborhood associations and their residents. There is no more money allocated for neighborhood improvement projects beyond 2017, which is also an election year for all Common Council districts and the Mayorship. In order to keep this valuable program, it is important for residents to speak up before March 15th, when project requests are due to the City Finance Department.
This is a valuable process that has the potential to engage more people in democratic process, and The Participatory Budgeting Project there are other examples of Cities running similar programs. These examples could help show the value of La Crosse's existing program and potentially show ways to refine and expand it. For more information, check out the video above and the following documents:
If you are a La Crosse city resident, you may consider writing to the Mayor or your Councilmember to make sure participatory budgeting is included in the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program. While the Common Council approves the CIP in November, staff begins working on it as early as January. Contact for your Councilmember can be found here, but if you don't know your district, here's the map which will change to this after the 2017 election. Note: the big red-outlined numbers are the district.
Sample Social Media Posts
Twitter: Will [official’s Twitter handle] support #ParticipatoryBudgeting to bring real democracy to the community? @PBProject https://vimeo.com/162743651
Facebook: Hi [official’s name], will you support participatory budgeting, to bring real democracy to the community? See this video to learn more:https://vimeo.com/16274365
You can copy and paste the sample email below to introduce PB to your local elected officials and to schedule a meeting. For more guidance on how to organize for PB, read our Organizing Toolkit.
Dear [your official’s name],
As stakeholder in [your community], I join my neighbors in urging you to support a participatory budgeting(PB) process. PB is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. The White House recently lifted up PB as a best practice in open government.
Elected officials in cities across the nation have been inviting their constituents to join them in making meaningful decisions around public budgets as a way to improve their communities. I ask for your support in bringing PB to [your community]. It would be an innovative and effective way of directly including me and my neighbors in local budget making.
Please consider including PB in the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program. The $750,000 budgeted in 2016 and 2017 for neighborhoods to decide which infrastructure funding is most important to them was a great way to get residents engaged in improving the city.
Can we schedule a meeting so we can discuss how to bring this transformative process to our community?.