Thursday, July 26, 2012

Web-based Participatory Budgeting Invites Citizens to Directly Influence Priority Based Budgeting Process

The $500 Exercise gives the participants a way to communicate which of the City's Results are most important, relative to one another. All of the City's Results are important, but some may be more important than others - the exercise is designed to learn the answer to this question. By placing more of the $500 in one Result over another, the participant instructs the City as to which Results are most important, relative to all of the other Results.

Ultimately, the programs with the highest scores from this process are recognized to be the most relevant programs the City is offering, as compared to and differentiated from the programs with the lowest scores. Why? Because a higher score simply indicates that the program has a high degree of influence on everything the City is trying to achieve.

Summing it up, the $500 exercise has a direct influence on determining the overall priority and relevance of the City's programs. By extending this process to the citizens of Delray Beach, citizens are now placed in a role of influence unlike any other budgeting process – their "investment" of the $500 helps the City realize which Results are most important, and further guides the process of prioritizing the services offered by the City. It is a crucial role, and a true definition of participatory budgeting!

Delray Beach, FL Launches “Open City Hall” Online Forum
“How Would You Budget $500 to Achieve What is Most Important for Our Community?”

26 JULY 2012

The City of Delray Beach invites all Delray Beach citizens to provide public comment on its new Open City Hall Forum budget topic - “How Would You Budget $500 to Achieve What is Most Important for Our Community?” at  This new “$500 Budget Challenge” gives the Delray Beach community the opportunity to allocate funding ($500) for Strategic Plan priorities (that support various City services and/or programs offered) that they feel are the most important to sustain our City as a leading community within South Florida and throughout the state of Florida.

Every year, from April through September, the City of Delray Beach prepares its Fiscal Year (FY) budget that begins on October 1st.  This is generally a long and difficult process to complete, and due to the extended downturn in the economy, it has become even more complex and challenging to ensure that the City’s Strategic Plan priorities are met and that the City continues to provide high quality programs and services.  Faced with significantly reduced revenues and grants, limited opportunities to raise funding to support daily operational costs due to state legislative actions and, in some cases, increased expenditures, the City must navigate these significant challenges annually to find a way to continue providing the important City services that makes Delray Beach a great place to live, work and play.

A major component of the City’s budget process has included feedback provided by our residential and business communities, which provides the public with direct access to our local government’s budget decision making process. In an effort to continue this public engagement and receive input into the FY 2013 budget process, this year, the City has held/scheduled 6 Workshops with presentations from the various General Fund departments, included Budget Public Hearings on a monthly basis at City Commission Meetings and is now accepting written comments through the City’s new Open City Hall Forum (  This new innovative communication tool, which promotes civic participation from anywhere and at any time, is being offered to our citizens with the expectation that it will provide the City with valuable input prior to final decisions being made on the FY 2013 Budget.

The City’s new on-line Budget Challenge has been set up to provide citizens with six (6) results (or priorities) that the City continuously strives to achieve. Given a $500 budget, your role as a taxpayer is to assign a "value" or determine how you would fund the results/priorities within the upcoming FY 2013 Budget that you think are most important to our community’s needs. These limited funds, which represents the limited revenues that the City Commission is faced with, may be distributed equally to each of the 6 results/priorities or among each sub-result based upon what you believe are the most important to ensure Delray Beach’s continued success.

The Budget Challenge also allows you to add new sub-results if you think that there are other priorities that were not already listed as well as to provide a written statement to expand your thoughts/opinions on the City’s current priorities and/or to offer funding direction to staff and the City Commission that may be considered during the development of the proposed FY 2013 budget.  Detailed instructions and a scrolling calculator are available to help guide you through this exercise.

To participate in the City’s Open City Hall Forum “$500 Budget Challenge”, visit the City’s new website – – and click on Open City Hall Forum under the Quick Links box on the right side of the home page or directly by clicking on the following link: and look under More Topics and select Fiscal Year 2013 $500 Budget Challenge.

For more information on this new topic and/or the City’s “Open City Hall” online citizen forum, contact the Public Information Office at (561) 243-7190 or by E-mail at

Open City Hall is an online forum that promotes public comment and civic engagement. This innovative approach to local government enables residents to provide input and share ideas on City-related issues. The forum continues the City’s efforts to provide more opportunities for citizen interaction and engagement and enables City officials to hear the voices of those who are unable and/or unwilling to speak publicly at City Commission meetings. Open City Hall is maintained by Peak Democracy,, a non-partisan company and a member of the Alliance for Innovation, whose mission is to broaden civic engagement and build public trust in government. About 40 other cities across the country are using Open City Hall.

The $500 Budget Challenge is an exercise that was developed by the Center for Priority Based Budgeting,, to help Cities to determine which results/priorities within a community are believed to be of a higher priority and evaluates the programs and services within these results/priorities it offers against the resources that are available to spend. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting offers research and advisory services to help local government organizations address their fiscal realities both in the short term (Fiscal Health) and long term (Fiscal Wellness) through a new and creative process that is actively being implemented across the country. The Center helps local governments find the answers to the most relevant questions of the day: How do we “stop the bleeding”?, How can our organization “spend within its means”?, How do we allocate scarce resources to top priority programs?, How can we link the budget with our strategic goals/objectives and with performance measures? and How does our organization head down a path of long term financial sustainability?

For more information please Contact City of Delray Beach Public Information Office at (561) 243-7190 or

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