Buffalo Councilmembers Michael LoCurto and David Rivera have introduced a Resolution seeking to explore the possibility of utilizing a process called Participatory Budgeting in the City of Buffalo.

Participatory Budgeting allows citizens to decide how a municipalities budget funds are spent. Participatory budgeting involves several steps:

1) Community members identify spending priorities and select budget delegates
2) Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals, with help from experts
3) Community members vote on which proposals to fund
4) The city or institution implements the top proposals

First implemented in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989, Participatory Budgeting has recently been done in Chicago and New York City. In Chicago and New York, Councilmembers have put the discretionary funds they receive into the control of community residents who determine how such funds should be spent. TheToronto Community Housing agency has allowed public housing tenants to vote and determine how 20% of the agency’s capital funds are spent ($1.8 million dollars).

You can view the Buffalo Council Resolution, which appears on page 251 of the meeting agenda.

You can learn more about Participatory Budgeting here.

What do you think about giving citizens the ability to vote on how a portion of their tax dollars are spent?