Tartu was the first city in Estonia that opens up its budget designing process for citizens and experiments with Participatory Budgeting according to scenario designed by e-Governance Academy (eGA). Citizens of Tartu can decide how their city should spend 140 000 euros which is about 1% of next years’s investment budget. From August 21 until September 10 all citizens of Tartu were invited to present their ideas via webpage or by sending a letter/e-mail to City Public Relations Department.
The City of Tartu started with planning the process of Participatory Budgeting already in 2012 when eGA organized an introductory seminar for Tartu city officials. In February 2013 the special working group was formed. It was leaded by experts of eGA and in addition to the Mayor and vice-Mayors the representatives of all fractions of City Council participated in the working group. By May 2013 the working group elaborated the suitable model and scenario for implementing Participatory Budgeting in Tartu.
The main task of eGA was to consult the whole process from designing the model to communicating the process to all target groups. The cooperation between Tartu City and eGA will continue also through the implementation process. Moreover, eGA coordinates further development works of VOLIS (Information System of Councils) with the aim of creating new functionalities of VOLIS to correspond better to the needs of Participatory Budgeting process.
The scenario for implementing Participatory Budgeting in Tartu was as follows:
- Presentation of ideas (August 21- September 10, 2013): Every citizens can present an idea, but the criteria are that it has to qualify as an investment (object, building etc) and the realization cost should not exceed 140 000 euros.
- Expert opinions on ideas (September – October 2013): The presented ideas will be analyzed by experts of respective topics, similar ideas will be consolidated and all ideas will be assessed and commented according to their estimated cost and content.
- Presentation of ideas (November 2013): Ideas will be presented on webpage and presentation event will be organized and broadcasted online.
- Voting on ideas (November 2013): all ideas (which are in accordance with predicted budget and received positive expert evaluation) will be voted by citizens using traditional and electronic means available for that. Every Tartu resident that reached 16 years of age is eligible to vote (1 vote per person).
- The idea with most votes wins and will be approved by City Council.
- The winning idea will be put into practice in 2014.