Our participatory budgeting initiative is a democratic process that allows residents to help determine how public funds are spent. It gives people real power over public money. Participatory budgeting allows residents to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent.
Here's how the process will unfold over the course of the next year.
- Design the Process: A steering committee that represents the community creates the rules and engagement plan
- Brainstorm Ideas: Through meetings and online tools, residents share and discuss ideas for projects
- Develop Proposals: Volunteer "budget delegates" develop the ideas into feasible proposals
- Vote: Residents vote on the proposals that most serve the community's needs
- Fund Winning Projects: The City funds and implements the winning ideas
The PBGR rulebook is being developed in Grand Rapids for the first time in 2021 by a Steering Committee consisting of community volunteers from each Ward. This plan will be revised annually as future Steering Committee members tailor the process to best serve the unique needs, interests, and issues found in our neighborhoods. This rulebook remains a work in progress.
Download PBGR Rulebook(PDF, 5MB)
The initial funds for Participatory Budgeting GR are provided for by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA funds have limitations based on federal mandates. The participatory budgeting process follows PBP best practice for municipal budgeting which outlines $1 million per 100,000 in population. The $2 million that Grand Rapids has set aside for participatory budgeting exceeds similar sized cities such as Oakland, CA ($185K per 100K), Durham, NC ($889K per 100K) and Sacramento, CA ($200K per 100K).
The City Commission decided to distribute funds through graduated dispersal of $2 million across the City’s three wards. This allows for investment based in part on the distribution of demographic and economic factors in each Ward. The division of funds helps helps address historical disparities across the wards. The graduated ward distribution of funds includes:
- First Ward - $600,000
- Second Ward -$400,000
- Third Ward - $1,000,000
Project Idea Parameters
The initial funds for Participatory Budgeting GR are provided for by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA funds have limitations based on federal mandates. To help community members understand what can be funded, we've provided guidance on expenditures to align with ARPA requirements.
- Infrastructure investments related to water, wastewater and broadband
- Evidence-based violence reduction strategies
- Remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards in homes
- Economic and health impacts of COVID-19 (includes assistance to households, small business and nonprofits)
- Incentive pay to front-line workers
- Investments in housing and re-housing
- Addressing educational disparities
- Investing in healthy childhood environments