Community Members Ages 12 and Older Can Submit and Vote on Ideas for How to Invest $1 Million in City Improvement Projects
Idea submissions to be accepted from March 20 to May 20, 2023
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Katjana Ballantyne is today announcing Somerville’s first-ever Participatory Budgeting process, giving community members a direct say in how $1 million of City funds is allocated. Somerville residents are invited to begin submitting their ideas on Monday, March 20. The City will begin implementing the winning projects in October (www.somervillema.gov/PB).
“Somerville’s residents are its greatest strength. Participatory Budgeting empowers our passionate, committed, and innovative community to not only share ideas to improve their neighborhoods, but actually decide which projects are funded,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “Whether it’s a water bottle filling station at a City park, a new arts festival, or a technology upgrade for our public libraries, proposals for every type of city improvement are welcome and encouraged.”
Idea Eligibility and Submission
Starting March 20, 2023, Somerville residents are invited to start submitting their ideas. Eligible ideas will serve a public benefit, are a one-time expense, cost less than $1 million, and are located on City property.
Ideas will not be accepted if they require the City to hire additional staff, require recurring expenses, only give business to a specific vendor, are inconsistent with City policies, or are located on private, state, or MBTA property.
Before being submitted to a public vote, all projects must be approved and reviewed by the City to ensure they meet all eligibility and legal requirements.
Throughout the idea submission phase, residents can submit their ideas online, over the phone, and in person.
Phone: City Budget office at 617-863-6622 or 311 (dial 311 or 617-666-3311)
In Person: Submission forms are available for pickup at City Hall (93 Highland Ave.) and Somerville’s public libraries (www.somervillepubliclibrary.org/library/hours-locations).
The Participatory Budgeting process will be divided into three parts:
First, from March 20 through May 20, residents develop and submit their ideas for funding. We’ll create opportunities for residents to learn what qualifies and to bounce around ideas with fellow community members. We encourage you to workshop your ideas with others. Participatory Budgeting processes in other cities and towns often work best when residents listen to each other and collaborate with one another.
Next, during Summer 2023, submissions will be carefully reviewed by Budget Delegate volunteers, and Somerville City staff. Category-specific subcommittees will evaluate each idea’s need, impact, feasibility, and cost to determine the 20 ideas that will be presented for Somerville residents to vote on in the fall.
Finally, from September 13 through October 13, Somerville residents ages 12 and older can vote for which ideas they’d like to be funded. The ideas with the most votes will be implemented by the City starting in October 2023, and will be funded until the $1 million is completely spent.
How Somerville Residents Can Get Involved
Throughout the Participatory Budgeting process, the community is invited to get involved via a wide array of volunteer and community engagement opportunities. Residents interested in getting hands-on experience are especially encouraged to apply to volunteer as Budget Delegates. Volunteers in this role will work directly with City staff to review idea submissions and determine which will be voted on by their fellow residents.
The time commitment for Budget Delegates will consist of an orientation meeting (about two hours), tentatively scheduled for June 15. Then ten recurring, in-person, meetings will take place on Thursday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. starting in June and ending in August.
General volunteer opportunities are also available to help get the word out and share the eligibility guidelines via outreach activities including stopping by businesses and knocking on home doors, event tabling, public speaking, and more.
Sign up to receive the Participatory Budgeting E-Newsletter to stay on top of all the process news, events, dates, and volunteer opportunities: http://www.somervillema.gov./PB