2022 Award "Best Practice in Citizen Participation"
Trogir: Project “Your voice matters, too!” – participatory budgeting programme
From 2017, we planned to involve citizens more in the work of local self-government. Communication with the administration was poor, citizens did not have clearly and transparently presented plans, costs and projects of our local municipality, and they did not have any role in deciding on minor communal interventions in their neighborhood. Exploring the practices of other cities, we got acquainted with the idea of participatory budgeting and started preparing a project that started in 2018.
Already in the first year, we met with a great response and great engagement of citizens. The project was received very positively, but we had a great challenge with the understanding of budget planning by citizens and the procedures we must follow according to the law. The project was also an opportunity to educate citizens about democratic practices, about legal regulations related to the processes of procurement, contracting and execution of work. It was also challenging to acquaint fellow officials with the involvement of citizens in their work, as well as a higher level of communication with citizens. Year after year, interest has grown, we have increasing involvement of citizens at different levels, and it turned out that smaller neighborhoods and smaller environments have greater homogeneity and more concrete ideas about how they want to arrange their neighborhood.
Every year we have between 250 and 400 proposals, and over 400 participants in public forums, so in the last 4 years we had over 1000 proposals and 1600 participants directly involved in the project.
Our practice was also interesting for the Institute of Public Finance, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, but also for several cities that wanted to implement our practice in their municipalities. Each new cycle we strive to bring a new innovation to the project, to include the younger population as well as to respect the wisdom and experience of older citizens. The pandemic period showed even more the importance and significance of direct communication and interaction, which is the most suitable for this kind of projects.
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