Participatory budgeting innovation

Residents to spend $200,000 on selected project

NASHUA – Mayor Jim Donchess is including a new, $200,000 innovation into the 2018 municipal budget proposal to draw more people into the budgeting process and increase civic engagement.

The Citizen Participatory Budgeting program piloted in the proposed budget uses $200,000 from the Capital Improvements fund to allow citizen volunteers to create proposals for city projects and put those proposals up for a vote.

“It will give people more control over what’s happening in the city,” the mayor said.

Donchess said the program is modeled on similar programs done in other parts of the country. The plan does require approval from the city Board of Aldermen before it can go forward, Donchess said.

If approved, citizen volunteers will join a committee to develop proposals for the money. Those proposals will get narrowed down to about 10 and then put up for a vote throughout the city, Donchess said. The proposals can include projects for the parks, or the schools, or anything that passes muster, he said. The project will be guided by Nashua’s Economic Development division.

Donchess would like to see as many people as possible get the opportunity to vote on the proposals. There is no plan yet for how the voting will be conducted, but Donchess said tha will be done at a minimum cost.

The Citizen Participatory Budgeting is another way Donchess is trying to make the city’s budgeting more accessible to city residents. The budget book printed Tuesday includes narratives for each department, explaining the mission, function, and goals for each department.