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City's Top Health Official: Participatory Budgeting Is Good For Your Health

Louisville skyline

The city's chief health strategist is coming out in support of an initiative to allow Louisville residents to participate in the budgeting process.

Participatory budgeting allows residents to propose ideas for how Louisville’s money should be spent and then vote for which project or idea should be funded.

Sarah Moyer, director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, attended an event announcing the initiative on Wednesday. Moyer said participatory budgeting would involve people with government and help create healthy solutions.

“Initiatives like this, that address the structural opportunities for residents to be engaged in building the community they want, are essential to the work of public health,” Moyer said. “The best way to build a thriving community is to include everyone in the decision making process from the start, and participatory budgeting is a means to make that happen.”

Metro Councilman Brandon Coan and Councilman David James will spearhead the project in their districts this year. So far, they've heard ideas from residents about using funds for sidewalk repairs, trees and beautifying parks.

Each district will have at least $75,000 for the program. It’s unclear whether the city will expand support for the program next year, but James hopes to see the initiative grow.

“[Participatory budgeting] allows citizens in our community to have a stake and a say in the way that their tax dollars are spent. It’s actually their money,” James said. “To me, that’s a very important part of our community. It adds towards transparency.”

Louisville hired Chicago-based nonprofit Our City Our Voice to assist and train staff on participatory budgeting, and hired the McNary Group to evaluate the project.

Center for Health Equity Manager Aja Barber said the McNary Group will measure how many people new to government participation take part in the project and how many people new to formal voting processes vote in the project. The group is expected to collect data along the way, Barber said, and give a full report on the project in July 2019.

The first event to gather project ideas is set for August 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Heuser Hearing Institute. More information can be found here.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.