San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin, in collaboration with countless community partners, will launch a process known as participatory budgeting in which community members decide how to spend part of the County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Led by the County’s Office of Equity, Participatory Budgeting (PB) will generate ideas for creative, post-pandemic solutions to address racial and social inequities and allow community members to vote directly on how to spend $2.5 million to fund community-initiated projects.
Proposed projects will address issues of housing, mental health, and economic opportunity — priority areas outlined in the recently updated Race Equity Action Plan. In addition, submitted ideas will be focused on Marin communities that score below 70 on the Healthy Places Index (HPI), or have significant racial disparities including Marin City, West Marin, and portions of San Rafael and Novato. HPI is a data tool aimed at advancing health equity across California by evaluating 23 key drivers of health and life expectancy.
“This is an opportunity to give people real power over real money that can make a powerful impact in our local communities,” said County Equity Director Jamillah Jordan. “Connecting the County’s commitment to racial equity with the budget process is an important step in ensuring the County’s policies and resources address the needs of the different communities it serves.”
Applications Open for Participatory Budgeting Committee
The County’s Equity Office is seeking applications from community members to join the PB Committee. The PB committee will play a key role in the implementation of the PB initiative, including assisting with inclusive community outreach, co-designing and participating in outreach events, and assisting with the initial review of grant proposals based on criteria of need, impact and feasibility.
The committee will include up to 15 people, have representatives from all five supervisorial districts, and be members of diverse communities, including people of color, women, LGBTQQIA+, youth, older adults, residents with disabilities or chronic illness, and people who are undocumented. The committee will meet up to eight times during the entire process and will receive a stipend for their participation. The application to join the Committee is available online from April 12 – June 17, 2022 in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Print copies of the application are available at 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 325.
Phases of Participatory Budgeting
There are six phases to Marin’s Participatory Budgeting initiative:
- Step 1: Recruitment for Participatory Budgeting Committee (April 12 to June 30, 2022). Up to 15 people from different cross sections of the community will be selected to serve on the committee tasked with community outreach and initial proposal review.
- Step 2: Idea Submission (July 2022 to ongoing) Community members will share their ideas about what can improve or support Marin communities. Projects should focus on addressing mental health, housing or economic opportunity, among other topics.
- Step 3: Grant Proposals Submitted (February 2023 - May 2023). In collaboration with community-based organizations, grant proposals inspired by ideas collected in Step 2 are submitted for review.
- Step 4: Project Voting (September 2023-October 2023)
Members of the public vote on which projects should be implemented. Participants will be able to rank their preferences based on the available budget.
- Step 5: Fund Winning Proposals (December 2023)
The Board of Supervisors announce and fund the winning projects.
- Step 6: Implementation and Updates (January 2024 and beyond) Grant recipients will implement the projects, providing regular updates on how PB projects are progressing and sharing opportunities for the public to get involved in implementation.
Racial equity is one of the Supervisors’ top priorities, along with affordable housing and homelessness, climate change and sea level rise, disaster preparedness and county infrastructure. The County Office of Equity’s mission is to establish the County as an anti-racist, multicultural workforce committed to accountability, transformational change, and community engagement.
The integration of community engagement into the local government budget process, or participatory budgeting, has been used and studied in cities across the United States and around the world.