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Update On Participatory Budgeting St. Louis From 6th Ward Ald Christine Ingrassia

September 21, 2013 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments

Guest post from 6th Ward Ald Christine Ingrassia

Click image for PBSTL website
Click image for PBSTL website

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Participatory Budgeting Saint Louis (PB STL) seeks to empower residents via direct participation in the allocation of public monies in order to expand civic and political participation of citizens; and increase government transparency, with a focus on inclusion of historically disenfranchised or uninvolved populations. While PB is a fairly new concept in the United States, it is already being implemented in Chicago, New York City and Vallejo. ??During St. Louis City’s 2013 municipal primary, Michelle Witthaus and I, both candidates in the 6th Ward’s Aldermanic race, learned there was an interest on the part of residents to feel more connected to the political process and to see greater governmental transparency and accountability. After a training MORE’s (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) Zach Chasnoff received and reported on, Michelle thought PB could address this interest. After the election, we decided to form a Steering Committee, which first met in May 2013, to bring PB to St. Louis City. I set aside $50,000 this year and will do the same next year, so that $100,000 of 6th ward capital improvement funds for fiscal year 2015 will go towards a pilot project to introduce St. Louis to this new endeavor.

From May through September the PB STL Steering Committee worked on rules for implementation, created a fundraising plan and canvassed in low voter turnout areas of the 6th ward. We are now ready to host Neighborhood Assemblies in October. Residents will learn how PB STL will work in its inaugural year and will have the opportunity to volunteer to plan projects the rest of the 6th Ward will vote on.

Trainings for budget delegates (volunteers planning projects) will occur in November and over the winter they will work with the Steering Committee and me to create project proposals. In March 2014 Project Expos will held. At these expos presentations of proposals will be made to the 6th Ward and changes can be made to them, as needed. ??Voting will occur in several different forms over the course of 1 – 2 weeks in April and will hopefully include an online option. In May 2014 winning projects will be provided to the City’s Board of Public Service to be included in the fiscal year 2015 budget. In June 2014 we will undertake evaluation of our first year’s efforts and the projects we voted on will begin to be implemented in July.

I’m hoping this project will increase community participation, act as an agent of government accountability and will spark an interest on the part of residents regarding how the budget process works.

Here is a listing of our upcoming assemblies; PB STL would love to see you at one.

  1. Monday, October 7th
    Jefferson Warehouse
    2501 S Jefferson Ave

    Koken Art Factory (location change as of 9/29)
    2500 Ohio Ave.
  2. Wednesday, October 9th
    Barr Branch Library
    1701 S Jefferson Ave
  3. Monday, October 14th
    Stray Dog Theater
    2348 Tennessee Ave
  4. Wednesday, October 16th
    Lafayette Park United Methodist Church
    2300 Lafayette Ave
  5. Saturday, October 19th
    Barr Branch Library
    1701 S Jefferson Ave

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