Participatory budgeting was first developed in Brazil in 1989. It has since spread to over 3,000 cities all around the world. It has been successfully used in many different types of budgets, including budgets for countries, states, housing authorities, schools, and universities. PB enables residents to direct public money for their priorities. It is used most often to decide how to spend one-time capital funds.
The process varies from community to community. However, these six steps apply to every participatory budget process:
While it is very time and labor-intensive, the benefits of a participatory budget process are numerous. They include a deeper connection with democracy, transparency, and accountability between the city and its communities, public education, fairer spending, and community building.
Denver has utilized vigorous public input on capital funding priorities in the past, including most recently to develop our list of potential projects for General Obligation bonds. But we have never before used participatory budgeting to select final projects. In the Spring of 2017, Councilwoman Kniech and members of the City Council have begun the process of exploring the possibility of piloting a PB process in Denver.