News and Media

1 year ago in Community , Media release
(12/2/16) Council to consider letting people power decide where $1m of City budget is allocated in 2016–17

Fremantle Council is considering giving the local community the power to directly decide where a portion of the City’s municipal budget is spent.

The proposal is for $1m of the City’s 2016–17 budget to go through a process known as ‘participatory budgeting’, a democratic process where the community decides what projects or initiatives they would most like to see that money spent on.

“Participatory budgeting is growing in popularity worldwide and is something we’ve been looking at with interest for some time,” said Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt.

“Our local community is passionate and engaged in local issues so giving them a real say on deciding where some of the City’s budget is spent will be a win-win for both the City and the community.

“Council sees it as way to empower our community to work with us to make decisions affecting people’s everyday lives, as well as providing more transparency and insight into our budgeting process.

“The initiative still needs to be approved by council and then a model to engage with the community agreed on, but if proved successful in 2016–17, we will extend it out to a greater percentage of the overall budget in years to come,” added Mayor Pettitt

Fremantle Councillor Rachel Pemberton, a strong advocate for the benefits of participatory budgeting, was confident the initiative would work in Fremantle just as it had in so many other places globally.

“Other examples of participatory budgeting have shown that well-informed and genuinely empowered community representatives make excellent decisions for the collective good," Cr Pemberton said.

The proposal will be tabled at the City’s Finance Policy Operations and Legislative Committee (FPOL) meeting next week.

Proposed Fremantle model

Upon approval of the initiative by council, City officers will work with the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) to refine the model. A key aspect of the process is to ensure a diverse cross-section of the community is reached, including disadvantaged groups.

City Officers have recommended a ‘citizens jury’– a randomly selected jury made up of a representative sample of the local community–is established to make the final recommendation of where the money is spent.

The independent jury would be presented with the most popular community ideas and based on these, would make their final recommendations.

Background

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making; and a type of participatory democracy in which the local community decides how to allocate part of a municipal budget.

Now a global phenomenon, PB has spread to over 1 500 cities in Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It. was initially formed out of the town of Porto Alegre in Brazil in the late 1980s.