The City announced that it will launch a Participatory Budgeting process for the first time, to allow for direct community involvement in spending decisions
"Our vision, for this budget cycle and beyond, is to make investments that provide quality government services and infrastructure while maintaining the City's long-term fiscal health. Our budgets must reflect the commitment to creating a more equitable Philadelphia, where race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, or neighborhood are not a determinant of success or life outcomes". Mayor Kim Kenney
The City plans to call for spending ideas from the public in the early spring, with the final vote happening in June 2021, around the same time that City Council will vote on the FY22 budget.
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission is seeking applications from community members to join the "Re-Imagining Philadelphia Steering Committee". The Committee will design the Participatory Budgeting process, guiding the City on how to engage the public more collaboratively and inclusively. The Committee will also help build the foundation for how the next physical development plan of the city (known as "The Comprehensive Plan") is structured. Residents interested in being part of this initiative can apply by phone or online by December 15, 2020.
To further support Philadelphia's first Participatory Budgeting effort, the City has also engaged the non-profit Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP). PBP has worked with cities including Oakland, Boston, and Seattle and has a proven track record of working to deepen democracy, build stronger communities, and make public budgets more equitable and effective.
More Opportunities for People Outside City Government to Influence Budget Proposals
While Participatory Budgeting will provide direct decision making by members of the public, it will represent just a small sliver of the budge ($1m). For the larger budget, the City will seek more direct and indirect input into the needs and preferences of Philadelphians, with concerted efforts to engage Black and Brown Philadelphians. This will complement City Council's public hearing process which occurs after the Mayor proposes the budget but before Council makes any amendments and takes a final vote.
Making budget information more accessible to the public will be essential to increased public engagement in the budget process. The City will continue to enhance its budget materials to make them easier to find and understand. This past year's budget process brought an upgrade of the layout of the Five-Year Plan and introduced graphic, summary documents in multiple languages. In addition to continuing those new formats, the City in Fiscal Year 2022 will offer new ways to get budget information, including videos and interactive budget calculators.