Staff Pick: Bayswater Participatory Budgeting

Client: City of Bayswater (WA)
Project: Participatory Budgeting 2019/20
Publish Date: 21 March 2019
Project Details: The City of Bayswater used a Participatory Budgeting process to help inform the City’s annual operating budget for 2019/20. 

Engage Bayswater used a Participatory Budgeting process and invited their community to help inform the City’s annual operating budget for 2019/20. 

The good: Stepping well outside of their comfort zone, the City of Bayswater adopted a participatory budgeting process, and used both an ‘online budget allocator’ tool and a ‘community panel’ to discuss, develop and provide Council with the community’s budget recommendations.

For consideration: Ensure you have the time, resources and internal buy-in to effectively plan and deliver a community centric process. Use both online and traditional techniques to gather broad community input. Recruit a demographic sample to your community panel and ensure all voices are both represented and participate.

Overall: A well thought out process that can be replicated by other Councils who are looking for new and participatory ways to get people involved in the Business Plan and Budget process

What we love most

  1. The approach: This has to be one of the most well thought out BP&B processes that we have seen in a long time, by using a two staged process. Stage 1 invited everyone to use the ‘budget allocator’ tool, where people could indicate their preferences for how the 2019/20 budget could be spent. Stage 2 included the recruitment of people from a cross section of the community, who then participated in a series of facilitated workshops, where they explored and deliberated on data and community input from Stage 1, as well as technical advice and feedback from key City staff and technical experts. The process was undertaken in a fully transparent environment where the panel worked together to deliberate and make recommendations to Council to inform the development of the 2019/20 budget.
  2. It’s inclusive: The process provided both online and traditional ways for their local community to participate and get involved. In addition to using the online tool (in a time and place that’s suits you best), staff also hosted a series of face-to-face opportunities for people to interact and share their thoughts in person. By reaching out and going to places like local libraries and community centres helped to ensure there were no barriers to participation.
  3. Use a short video: Use of rich media, like a short video from your Mayor is a really great way to introduce the project and to invite people to get involved. A simple video can easily be shared on your social media channels and significantly increase exposure of your project to a very wide audience. Personally, I would rather watch a two minute video than to read 2 pages of text.

4. The process is transparent: Effective planning means that this project has a number of defined stages, techniques and timeframes for delivery. This is clearly articulated on their website so that anyone can see the ‘entire picture’ what has occurred in the past and what will be happening next. Good use of the ‘Newsfeed’ tool, means that everyone can be kept up to date and see a full history of what has taken place so far.

5. They are trying something different: It can be very scary and difficult to try something different, especially when your Council’s has been engaging on its draft budget the same way for many years. However, if you’re looking for different outcomes or higher levels of engagement on your budget process, then you probably need to try something new. Be brave and be adventurous, but don’t forget to plan well and work within your resources and level or organisational support.

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