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Mayor Michelle Wu yesterday filed an Ordinance establishing the Office of Participatory Budgeting, amending the City of Boston Code. The purpose of this office is to provide the structure necessary to enhance public engagement and direct involvement in the City’s budget. The ordinance requires approval by the Boston City Council.
“Creating opportunities for direct involvement in the City’s budgeting process ensures our residents’ voices and needs are represented in their local government’s departments and programming,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to working with the City Council to establish this office and its oversight board for direct civic engagement to shape our budget.”
This ordinance establishes the Office of Participatory Budgeting, which will include a director and an external oversight board. The Office, working in partnership with the external oversight board, will establish and manage a Participatory Budgeting Process that will be an equitable and binding decision-making process open to all Boston residents during fiscal 2024 and in addition will create another opportunity for residents to both engage with the City’s annual budget process and to make recommendations for projects to include in the budget. The Office will work across departments and agencies, external organizations, and with communities to ensure year-round public involvement and engagement in the City’s budgeting.
Working with the Office, the external oversight board will be tasked with submitting participatory budgeting project proposals to the Mayor for inclusion in the City’s budget. The board will also assist in the creation of a Participatory Budgeting Rule Book, which will outline the policies and procedures for the participatory budgeting process. The Board will be composed of nine Boston residents with varied experience and expertise, including community investment and development, public finance, open space, urban planning, community organization and outreach, affordable housing, public education, public health, environmental protection, and historic preservation. The Mayor will appoint five individuals directly to the oversight board, as well as appoint four individuals to the oversight board from a pool of eight applicants provided to the Mayor by the City Council. Board members will have two-year terms.
In the 2021 Municipal Election, Boston’s voters approved a ballot measure to create an Office of Participatory Budgeting charged with furthering public engagement on how the City’s budget is created and how tax dollars are spent. Ahead of the FY23 budget submission, Mayor Wu worked with the Office of Budget Management (OBM) and Boston City Council to hold a Budget Listening Tour for residents to better understand the budget and to solicit public feedback. The direct feedback was aimed to empower constituents in working alongside the City, and allowed the City to further evaluate where resources might be most equitable and valuable. For those who were unable to attend the series of listening sessions, a budget survey was also available for constituents and residents to weigh in on the city’s future investments. Additionally, recently, in advance of the FY24 budget process, the Office of Budget Management (OBM) in partnership with ONS’ Office of Civic Organizing, hosted budget workshops with groups that were underrepresented during the FY23 winter budget listening sessions to help increase their understanding of the budget process and share how to engage with the City’s budget. For more information, go to boston.gov/budget.