For the 2014 cycle, Vallejo's Participatory Budgeting (PB) budget isn't as robust as the $3.2M that its residents had to work with in 2013. But the cities' many challenges haven't diminished. And as far as we can tell, neither have the desires of PBs' proponents who will once again this year share their project ideas at the assemblies.
There are other important differences to this year's PB rollout. This year the PB2014 steering committee added more assemblies, aiming to reach more folks from under-served parts of Vallejo, Like last year, all assemblies will feature refreshments and a select number will offer childcare as well as Spanish and Tagalog interpreters.
Perhaps the most far reaching development is this year's addition of three full-time PB support staff. They are charged with fulfilling many of the administrative functions that keep the PB process functioning smoothly. Last month we had the opportunity to talk with Will Morat, one of the three administrative analysts who came onboard in the last quarter of 2013. We wanted to know the differences that PB participants can anticipate this year. Here are the highlights:
Faster implementation of projects
Morat said that the extended project implementation delays that most funded projects experienced in the 2013 cycle were due to the fact that there were no staff available to craft the custom contracts needed between the project owners and the city. Notable exceptions included the top vote-getter, Potholes and Street Repairs project, that could quickly get underway since it supplemented the Public Works budget which already had contracts in place. "We plan on streamlining this process" says Morat,"with our three-person team readying the paperwork so that contracts can be good to go as soon as this years' projects are approved."
More specificity to suggested projects
One frustration that budget delegates experienced last year, Morat said, is that many projects suggested in the assemblies lacked the kind of detail needed for the delegates to promote their concepts. Lacking these details, the delegates often had to second-guess the intent of the projects, since no names were attached to the suggested projects. This year Morat says that they will develop a system where the originators of the projects will be identified so that they can be located should there be questions about the intent of the projects they suggested in the Assemblies.
Are you new to Vallejo's PB process? We've included some of our PB101 series postings in our 'Suggested Links' below.
You can also read an ongoing commentary about this year's PB process at the PB-Vallejo blog.