Tartu was the first city in Estonia that opened its budget designing process to citizens and began experimenting with participative budgeting in 2013. Citizens of Tartu can decide how their city should spend 200,000 EUR, which is about 1% of the subsequent year’s investment budget.
Tartu has set three goals for participative budgeting:
to improve understanding of the city budget and its shaping process;
to boost cooperation between communities;
and, to find solutions to practical problems within the city by implementing citizens’ ideas.
The process for implementing participatory budgeting in Tartu:
Call for Ideas. Every citizen can present an idea, but the criteria are that it must qualify as an investment (object, building, etc.) and that the cost of realisation should not exceed 100,000 EUR. Each year, at least two ideas are developed into projects, totalling the overall budget of 200,000 EUR. The ideas must be connected to Tartu, for public use and of benefit to ordinary citizens. Implementation of the ideas must not generate unreasonable costs in future budgets for the city.
Expert Opinions on Ideas. The presented ideas will be analysed by experts in their respective fields. Experts consider the feasibility of the ideas from various aspects, including financial, temporal and technical.
Discussions. In-depth discussions of the ideas and their impact will be held between the experts and the people behind the ideas. These discussions will determine which ideas go forward to the final vote.
Presentation of Ideas. The city government will present all of the selected ideas on the city's homepage, in public city spaces, via social media, etc. The individuals who proposed the ideas will then seek support for them.
Public Voting. Citizens will have the opportunity to vote for all of the ideas (which are in accordance with the budget and received positive expert evaluation), using both traditional and electronic means. Every resident of Tartu, aged 16 years or more, is eligible to vote (3 votes per person). The idea with most votes wins and will be approved by the City Council.
Implementing Ideas. The two ideas which gather the most public support will be implemented.
The participative budgeting process is organised by the Public Relations Department of Tartu City Government. E-government Academy counsels Tartu on preparing and processing the participative budgeting.
Department of Public Relations in Tartu City Government