2015 Top 10
City of Vallejo, CA
Innovations in American Government Awards

Vallejo’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) is an annual nine-month process of reestablishing citizen trust in their government, incorporating residents’ creativity into project design, and collaborating across demographic and bureaucratic boundaries. Now in its third year, residents come together at schools, community centers, and places of worship to share hundreds of ideas to improve their city — one of the most diverse in the US. Volunteers work closely with city staff to sift, combine, adapt, and develop those ideas into project proposals. A special election provides every resident 16 years and older with an opportunity to vote on which projects to fund with local sales tax revenue. The city’s annual event engages nearly 5,000 residents, many of whom are not yet 18 years old. Not only does Vallejo and its population of 115,000 benefit from the 20+ public projects totaling $5.6 million, it creates an opportunity for hundreds more “professional citizens” to sit at the table alongside civil service employees and elected officials to become real stakeholders and decision-makers in their government.