GREENSBORO -- There's a new way for city residents to have a say in how the city's budget money gets spent.
In a process known as participatory budgeting, each of the city’s five districts is getting $100,000 to implement neighborhood improvement ideas from residents.
Currently, officials from the Participatory Budget Project, a nonprofit contracted by the city to implement the system, are collecting ideas at community forums, also known as “assemblies.”
"As many ideas as they want to give us, we'll take them all,” said Ranata Reeder, the community engagement coordinator for the project.
Reeder said that since the idea collection process began in October, residents have submitted more than 150 ideas, ranging from more bus shelters to upgrades to parks and recreation centers.
Ultimately, some of the ideas will be developed into more robust proposals and residents will have a community vote to decide which projects they like most. The top vote-getters will be funded until each district’s money runs out.
"It allows the community members to communicate directly on how the portion of the public funds are going to be spent,” Reeder said.
The Greensboro City Council approved participatory budgeting for the 2016-2017 fiscal year in October 2014. Several other cities across the country have previously used the system, but Greensboro is the first city in the South.
"I think that’s great. I think we need more of that. I think that's really important for the community to be able to get their ideas out there and be heard by the government,” said Annie Wittenberg, a city resident.
Greensboro residents can click here to learn more about participatory budgeting or attend an upcoming assembly.