The city of Lahti invites residents to municipal decision making and to direct 100,000 euro of participatory budgeting funds.
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic decision-making process where ordinary people decide how to spend public funds. Lahti has decided to spend 100,000 euros on PB in the year 2020 and implement the projects within 2021. The money is spent between the city of Lahti and the municipal areas of Lahti. In PB, Lahti is divided into four geographic areas.
The goal is to change how the city operates and direct funds into a more participatory direction by involving the residents in decision-making. Citizens can propose projects and ideas that will enhance and develop the city. The citizen can develop a project or idea that mainly supports wellness, community building, the environment. Lahti has implemented its innovative PB system to activate citizens in decision-making and encourage initiative from the citizen that will implement local governmental change to benefit directly the citizens and sustainable development. Thus, citizens are directly involved in local government's decision-making. Furthermore, they are encouraged to become project supervisors which encourage citizen involvement. Project supervisors help with developing PB, they support the implementation and coordination of PB.
There are three stages in the PB process: ideation, development, and public vote. Among all those who submitted project ideas, two gift cards worth 50 euros for the city's cultural services were raffled and gifted to two lucky people. 10 projects were chosen and will receive the funding.
Municipal funding 100,000 euro. The city names 4 project leaders who support and are part of processing, evaluating, implementing ideas and participate in joint development. And 12 project supervisors who distribute information and activate residents in their areas.
Evidence of success
PB activate citizens to the 713 ideas from where a total of 58 project proposals were put to the vote. A total of 3,896 residents voted for the PB proposals. Of the votes, 97% were cast online and paper forms accounted for 3%. Those aged 30-40 voted most enthusiastically, the turnout for PB reached nearly 400 under 18 and about 130 people over 70. Around 60% of the voters were women.
The outcome of some projects might be delayed because of Covid-19.
Potential for learning or transfer
Ideas for the PB were collected between 20.4-15.5.2020, on www.lahti.fi. The city invited locals and contributors of the 713 proposals to develop the ideas further. It concluded with 58 proposals, published on the Lahti website. The vote was open on the website from 28.8-9.9.2020. Voting was also possible with a paper form in libraries.
Previous CECI Good Practice; Sopenkorven Kesanto (Fallow) received 686 votes and 10,000 euros in funding from PB. The public space and event arena for Lahti residents will use the funds to improve, for instance, lighting, improve and increase seating for performances, add bicycle parking and toilets.
PB was first implemented in the 1980s in Porto Alegre/Brazil to increase transparency about the budget allocations and cope with social inequalities and corruption. Since then, the concept has been spread all around the globe. However, there is no universal method of PB.