Dems on county board to hold meeting on budget

Dems on county board to hold meeting on budget

CHAMPAIGN — The Democratic Party majority on the Champaign County Board will host a public meeting Wednesday to discuss county budget options.

The county's fiscal year starts Dec. 1 and the budgeting process began this week with presentations on requests from various county departments. A final budget plan is expected to be adopted in November. The next county budget will be a 13-month plan for the period Dec. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014.

The community budgeting town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Champaign City Council chambers, according to Champaign Democrat Michael Richards, chairman of the 12-member Democratic caucus.

"We want to give the caucus and the general public a chance to weigh in with what they want to see in the budget as we start this process. It can be broad or it can narrow items that they think are important. We just want to offer a chance to do feedback," said Richards. "I was struck with the 'Big. Small. All.' process (a public prioritizing of countywide needs in 2005). Some of the things that came from the general public were things that were not on the radar of local officials at all, I believe that one of the biggest needs was expanding forest preserves."

Although the meeting Wednesday is being led by Democrats, it is open to everyone, including Republican county board members.

"We're not setting a budget there, but it's to better inform county board members about what is important to the community," Richards said. "It's not necessarily going to happen in tight budget times, but we want to give the community a chance to say everything broadly from, we need to ensure roads in the county are well paved to we need to be spending more money on criminal justice system programs to, for all we know, maybe there's some specific program or item out there that is really popular. Or people may show up and say that we think you're spending too much money on this item or that item and it shouldn't be a priority."

Richards said he believes the county will see approximately 2 percent revenue growth next year, but "most of that will be instantly eaten up by employee health care" costs.

"We've got to prioritize and I think we can make better decisions with public input on that," Richards said.

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OwlCreekObserver wrote on August 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Obviously a democrat publicity stunt.  If the council truly wants to solicit public opinion, why would democrat members of the council hold their own town hall?  Cynical politics at its worst.

pattsi wrote on September 01, 2013 at 8:09 am

To counter the comment that this is a democrat publicity stunt. Here is the email message that I sent to my CB colleagues upon my return from attending the national American Planning Association conference mid April 2013. My point is that this is not a stunt, but the beginning of a means to engage the public in budgetary processes whether the county, the cities, the villages, etc. It is your tax dollars that will be discussed..

"Hi everyone, I just returned from attending the national American Planning Association conference. One of the session that I choose to attend had to do with participatory budgeting. This is a budget method being used in NYC, a number of the wards in Chicago, and Lincoln, NE--at least those are the people who did the presentations. The purpose of this method is to engage the public in deciding how their tax dollars are spent. According to the presentations, there are a number of interesting results of this approach:
 
1. Many times the public is more willing to spend on "X" than the professionals thought would be the case.
2. Increased public participation in the process.
3. By engaging the public in the process, even if the public did not get a project funded or not to the extent desired there was much great understanding why this was the case and much more acceptance.

As I listened to all of this information, I am thinking that this might be a useful way to engage the public in deciding how the amount of monies for mental health and public safety get distributed.

If you have an interest in this idea, I have the information how NYC does the process and an example of the ballot used in Chicago ward 49, Joe Monroe is the alderman. If you made the request, I would be glad to lone it to the county to scan so it can be distributed to each of you electronically.


RESOURCES

Doing some searching on the internet has provided a number of resources for the participatory budgeting concept:

New York City

http://pbnyc.org/

http://www.cvhaction.org/pb

http://www.cdp-ny.org/report/pbreport.pdf
(This is the report that I have in hand.)

http://www.urbanjustice.org/

Chicago  Ward 49  Joe Monroe    Rachel Weber, UIC, Great Cities Institute, is working with him to research the process 

http://www.urbanjustice.org/

Unlike NYC, I can not find a copy of the ballot on the internet. I do have a paper copy of the 2011 ballot.

Lincoln, NE   Mayor Chris Beutler    and Alan Tomkins Director U. of Nebraska Public Policy Center

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/participatory-democracy-and-public-housing

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication-series/does-participatory-governance-matter

http://ppc.unl.edu/userfiles/file/Documents/staffpubs/PublicInputForCityBudgeting-Tomkins,%20et%20al.pdf


ACADEMIC PAPERS

If you are interested in more information about this concept that was started in Brazil, here are some academic papers.

http://eau.sagepub.com/content/16/1/27.short


P2"

.

 

chambana visionary wrote on August 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm

How much will the county Dems be willing to budget to keep drunk drivers like Richards off our county roads?