Originally posted at CA Fwd.
By Cheryl Getuiza.
Anyone who’s read the book or watched the movie, “The Hunger Games,” knows this famous quote-“Let the 74th Hunger Games begin.” Well, city leaders in San José will soon be making a similar announcement. “Let the fourth annual Budget Games, begin!”
Every year, for the past four years, city leaders have invited citizens to give input on the budget by prioritizing city services and projects for the City’s annual $2.9 billion budget. It’s a months-long process that’s broken up into a one day workshop, surveys, and public hearings.
“Resident input is critical to San José’s community-based budget process,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “When we’ve had shortfalls, our priority setting session provided early input to help rank difficult choices.”
“More recently, we’ve added police officers, restored funding for gang prevention and intervention, and opened shuttered library branches based on feedback from our community.”
This year, thanks to a continued partnership with Conteneo, residents will be able to participate in a new online version.
“This tool will allow even more residents to get involved and model the same tough choices the City Council has to make each year in balancing the city’s budget. We look forward to getting their guidance,” said Reed.
From street repairs, fire and police department staffing and response times, funding for community centers, public library hours, as well as potential bond or tax measures that could increase resources needed for critical services—topics, for residents to rank, are plenty.
“Because of space limitations, our annual budget game event has been restricted to about a hundred neighborhood and youth leaders,” said Interim Assistant City Manager Norberto Dueñas. “By opening up the online version this year, we hope we can reach thousands of residents who can give us their ideas on budget priorities while they also can learn about the city’s budgeting process.”
“By engaging residents using collaborative games, participants can achieve a better understanding of the tough choices their city government must make every year, and City Hall gets a better picture of what the community is thinking,” said Luke Hohmann, Conteneo CEO.
“Like many cities, San José continues to face difficult budgets that require difficult decisions with direct effects on San José residents,” said Hohmann. “In the past, these effects included reduced community services, employee layoffs and pay cuts, and deferred maintenance to balance the budget. “
Engaging residents on key decisions can make a big difference in the quality of life everyone in the community receives and using technology to reach a broader audience is just the ticket to getting it done.