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Budget Deliberative Forums


Budget-related deliberative forums typically involve more intensive and/or longer-term facilitated processes than budget workshops.

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

Keep in Mind

This type of engagement activity will require substantial time and resources and the full understanding and support of elected officials and senior staff. Such forums typically take more time and resources than a survey or workshop.

Why This Approach?

Deliberative forums can give a significant number of community participants an opportunity to grapple with budget issues in greater depth than a shorter workshop might allow.

For more details see the notes on deliberative forums to the right.

Outreach and Education Case Stories From California and Beyond

Below are stories of local agencies using a budget deliberative forum approach to involve residents in the budgeting process.

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.

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