Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

Budget Deliberative Forum Stories

Case Story

“This process was a real eye-opener and educational experience for city staff, especially for finance people who don’t often get a chance to directly interact with the community.” - City Staff Member, Menlo Park

“Dialogue is important not just to collect opinions but to talk about consequences and implications. We thought this would lead to better solutions and increased trust.” - City Manager, City of Morgan Hill

Below are stories of local agencies using a “Budget Deliberative Forum” approach to involve residents in the budgeting process.

For notes on the “Budget Deliberative Forum” approach, see document at right.


Case Story

City of Vallejo Launches Third Cycle of Participatory Budgeting

The City of Vallejo launched their third cycle of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in 2015, a process that gives residents and stakeholders the opportunity to develop and prioritize community-generated ideas for a portion of the city budget for city council consideration.

Case Story
City of Bell – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

City of Bell – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

On Saturday, January 21st, 2012 the City of Bell convened a historic bi-lingual Community Forum that brought more than forty residents together to deliberate and to offer guidance to local officials on goals and budget priorities for the 2012-13 fiscal year.  This process is one of several initiatives of the new Bell City Council to restore transparent, community-focused government to Bell.  

Case Story

City of Daly City – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Similar to many municipalities in California, the Bay Area community of Daly City experienced declining revenues from sales and property taxes in 2009 as a result of the national and global economic downturn, as well as state “take-aways” of local tax revenues.

Case Story

City of Menlo Park – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

In 2005, this south San Francisco Bay Area community faced a fourth consecutive year of budget cuts due to a 50 percent decline in sales tax revenue and an overall economic slump. Though the agency had conducted budget-related surveys in the past, these did not reveal public preferences related to real trade-offs and difficult choices.

Case Story

City of Morgan Hill – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community:City of Morgan Hill (Santa Clara County)

Population: 39,218

Summary: Community Conversations

When this south San Francisco Bay Area city predicted ongoing operating deficits, it launched a series of “community conversations” to get the public’s help in setting priorities.

Case Story

City of Redwood City – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community:City of Redwood City (San Mateo County)

Population: 77,269

Summary: Community Workshops Inform Council Priorities

This diverse city has established a reputation for innovative community-building and civic engagement activities, which the city council and staff build into many areas of municipal daily work. This includes city budgeting.

Case Story

City of Salinas – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community:City of Salinas (Monterey County)

Population: 150,898

Summary: Service-Level Dialogues

The Salinas City Council has made “consistent community outreach and engagement” one of its four thematic goals. The city conducted a series of four three-hour community conversations about city service levels in four different neighborhoods as part of an effort to address a large budget deficit.

Case Story

City and County of San Francisco – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community:City and County of San Francisco

Population: 824,525

Summary: Keypad Technology Supports Deliberation

In 2005, San Francisco gave randomly selected participants an opportunity to discuss and rank local services using “real time” keypad and computer technology. This allowed the results of many small group deliberations to be aggregated and shared.

Case Story

County of San Mateo – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community:County of San Mateo

Population: 264,972


San Mateo County developed a face-to-face and online visioning process to help guide its budget decisions. This “Shared Vision 2025” process built on and updated a long-range plan that had been collaboratively developed with community input in 1999. The county held a series of facilitated community meetings designed to reach out to a broad cross-section of residents and to define a vision of what people want from and for their county over the next 15 years.

Case Story

City of Walnut Creek – Budget Deliberative Forum Story

Community: City of Walnut Creek (Contra Costa County)

Log in