Participatory budgeting in Unincorporated King County
King County Executive Dow Constantine (standing at center) poses with county staff members and Community Investment Budget Committee members
King County’s Community Investment Budget Committee is helping the county spend…
- $10 million on capital projects in Skyway-West Hill, North Highline, East Renton, Fairwood, and East Federal Way. These capital funds can be used for anything that needs to be built or replaced, like buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, signs, and play structures.
- $1.3 million for services or programs in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline. This funding can be used for almost anything, including after-school programs, job training, building maintenance, food, art supplies, and investments in play structures and sidewalks.
King County approved funding for this project in its current two-year (2021-2022) budget, and will spend the funds as directed by the communities.
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members recommend to their local government how to spend part of a public budget in their communities. This empowers community members to work with government to make budget decisions that affect their lives.
In 2021, the King County Council directed King County Local Services—which provides local government services to the county’s unincorporated areas—to develop a community-centered advisory board to support an ongoing participatory budgeting effort for programs in the county’s urban unincorporated areas. At the same time, Local Services is also leading a $10 million participatory budgeting effort to fund capital projects in the urban unincorporated areas.
King County’s Community Investment Budget Committee is working to design and carry out a budgeting process centered on racial equity and community voices. The process will build on community strengths and address specific priorities that each community has identified. The committee will also help design the county’s larger participatory budgeting process to make sure that communities have control over how this money is spent and that funded projects will address real community challenges and have the most benefit.
The Community Investment Budget Committee is focusing on these urban unincorporated areas:
- Skyway-West Hill
- North Highline/White Center
- East Federal Way
- East Renton Plateau
Community Investment Budget Committee members are workign to develop and lead a participatory budgeting process in each of the five communities listed above. Members will be asked to act as ambassadors to their communities by recruiting participants and leading project development in those communities.
Members attend 2-4 committee meetings, spending about 4-8 meeting hours, per month. The first membership term will last through December 2022. Members are compensated for their time. King County staff members provide support to committee members for all meetings.
The committee is focusing on:
- Equity: Creating a process that uses authentic community engagement to reach those who are farthest away from traditional power, resources, and opportunities. Creating and participating in those outreach efforts throughout all phases (idea collection, project development, voting, planning, and evaluation). Considering investments that address the greatest community needs when choosing projects.
- Access: Allowing all community members to participate in the process. Providing language interpretation and translation and accessibility accommodations for meetings. Engaging the community in ways that meet the needs of people of different ages and with different amounts of education.
- Accountability: Developing ways to measure how the committee is actively engaging people who have not been involved in past government or budget processes. Informing and engaging residents of each community about the process, timelines, project identification, submittal, and selection.
- Prioritization and cost estimation: Validating each area’s community needs list (a list of needs created using community input and discussions). Prioritizing projects and evaluating cost estimates for the projects that will be considered by the community for investment.
Support the committee with administration, education, project management, facilitation, cost calculation, and determinations regarding legal use of funds. Provide training, mentoring, and coaching to help the team navigate government systems effectively. The county is also providing a committee budget for services related to the participatory budgeting process.
Community Investment Committee membership is open to all members of the public who live, work, attend school, play, and/or worship in the communities they seek to represent. However, King County staff members took steps to recruit people of color and those who are LGQBTIA, youths, seniors, immigrants, refugees, and those who have low incomes or disabilities, as well as people from other underrepresented groups.
The committee includes representatives from each community listed above. Each service area delegation is a mix that includes representatives from businesses and community-based organizations, youths under age 21, and “at-large” members who represent the community as a whole.
King County partnered with community organizations in each community to recruit and select local applicants.
Applications to serve on this committee are now closed.
If you have comments or questions about this committee, please contact:
Gloria L. Briggs
Participatory Budgeting Program Manager
Office phone: 206-263-8521
Mobile phone: 206-259-1634
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