Thursday, February 20, 2014

What is Community Budgeting?

Hopefully, you've heard that Somerville has launched a Community Budgeting process that kicks off on Monday, February 24. And, hopefully, you’re planning on coming to one of the three sessions.

If you've been itching to learn more about Community Budgeting and did a little Googling, you saw that there are a lot of different models out there (and that’s not even counting Participatory Budgeting – a whole other ball of wax).

We looked around at the various options out there and created our own model. So, here’s how Somerville Community Budgeting works:

Somerville's community values as documented in SomerVision.
Through other community processes, like SomerVision, you’ve let us know in broad strokes what the Somerville community values and we want to make investments that will help champion those values. For our first Community Budgeting process we've decided to take on four key areas: Public Health, Arts and Culture, Recreation, and Community Engagement and Immigrant Outreach; and now we need your help in guiding the investments that we make.

When you join us at a Community Budgeting meeting, you’ll get an overview of how the City budget comes about and you’ll get a chance to test your own budget knowledge. You’ll also get to hear from City staff who work in each of the four areas listed above. Armed with some budget context and an understanding what is currently being offered, you’re going to give us your suggestions about what’s missing or what you’d like to see more of. This being Somerville we want all your ideas – especially the innovative, off-the-wall ones.

While these Community Budgeting meetings are going to be super fun, we realize that not everyone will be able to make a session, so we’ll also collect investment ideas online through Facebook, Twitter, and as comments on this blog. In March, we’ll also set up a survey that will let you prioritize the ideas gathered at the meetings and online.  The Community Budgeting webpages on the City website also offer an opportunity to learn about the budget and take the post-meeting surveys. We've planned these meetings early enough that department heads can consider your investment ideas before submitting their budgets.

Oh, and why do we keep talking about “investments.” We don’t want to spoil all the meeting fun, but we’ve found some good data that shows investing in Public Health, Arts and Culture, Recreation, and Community Engagement and Immigrant Outreach have returns (often financial). For example, $1 in preventive medical care can save $8 down the road.

Want to join us? Here’s the Community Budgeting schedule:
  • Monday, Feb. 24 (snow date Thursday, March 6), 6:30 p.m., at the Capuano Early Childhood Center, 150 Glen St.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27 , 6:30 p.m., at the West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powderhouse Blvd.
  • Saturday, March 1 (snow date Saturday, March 8), 11 a.m., City Hall, 93 Highland Ave.

1 comment:

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