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Pilot program would help residents get more involved in part of the city budget


What if citizens could make suggestions to government officials on how to spend money? That’s the idea behind a new pilot project. District 6 City Councilor Nichole Rogers is working with Participatory Budgeting of Albuquerque to host a session Tuesday night to hear from the community about spending state capital outlay dollars.

State capital outlay money funds public infrastructure in local communities and every city council member has a discretionary amount of money that can be used on small-scale projects.

Rogers reported that she has $1.5 million in her capital discretionary fund and she wants her district to vote on how best to use it.

“I want the community to help me decide how to spend that, and how we do that as a district, and then we can execute those projects that the community has really visioned and chosen together,” she said.

As one of her priorities, Rogers is making good on her word to give a voice to her community.

“This is delivering on that promise that it's not just going to be me up here in an ivory tower making decisions for them,” she said. “It's going to be us working together to decide for our district, as a community, what we need?”

She’s partnering with Participatory Budgeting, which is a part of an international citizen engagement process where community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. The organization works in over 7,000 cities around the world and has helped decide budgets for states, counties, cities, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions. It’s meant to deepen democracy, build stronger communities, and make public budgets more equitable and effective.

Rogers said it was important to partner with an organization that has a track record of success and has taught this all over the world.

“I have the capital, they have the expertise, and together, we can really build a great process for our community that hopefully others can duplicate,” she said.

She said the meeting on Tuesday will involve sharing information on capital dollars, discussing how they've been used in the past, and what they could be used for in the future. There will also be information about joining future committees.

“We're really making it a family friendly environment where you can come learn a little bit more and then make the decision if you want to be involved, no pressure,” she said. “It's just a time for us to gather to really dream together about what our district can be.”

The session will be on Tuesday June 17 2024 from 5:30pm- 7:30pm at the International District Library. You can find more information on how to register here.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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