Participatory budgeting is a new idea sweeping cities all over the world whereby citizens are given direct input and even the final decision on parts of their local government budget.
Coached by civil servants or non-profit organisations such as the Participatory Budgeting Project, groups of people, often inhabitants of the same street or area, are invited to decide in a group how they would want to spend ‘their budget on their street’.
All the same rules and restrictions of actual budgets apply: there is a limited amount of money and every choice made is another project that can no longer be paid for. Having to reach a decision in group is yet another challenge as the wishes and needs of different people tend to vary considerably.
Through debate, discussion and ultimately voting, the participants try to come up with a balanced budget. Set your town up at http://www.participatorybudgeting.org/.