The city of Tartu, Estonia, seeks to improve citizens’ understanding of the city budget and its formation through its participatory budgeting projects. Annual rounds of participatory budgeting promote cooperation between communities, provide opportunities to implement new ideas and find solutions to some of the city’s problems.
The first participatory budgeting project was launched in 2013, and has since gone through five iterations. Tartu was the first Estonian city to experiment with open budget participation of this kind.
In the city’s PB process, citizens of Tartu decide how to spend 1% of the subsequent year’s investment budget (~150,000 EUR, originally 140,000 EUR but was raised in 2017).
The 6-step process generally progresses as follows:
1. Call for ideas: registered Tartu citizens (of at least 16+ years) can submit one or multiple ideas.
2. Expert opinion on ideas: experts makes suggestions, evaluate costs and feasibility.
3. Discussions: discussion groups outline the strongest ideas that will be up for voting (generally, 20-25 ideas).
4. Presentation of ideas.
5. Public voting: voting can be done electronically with ID-cards/mobile-ID or in-person at city information centers. Decisions are made by majority referendum.
6. Implementation of ideas: at least 2 ideas are set to be implemented each year.
Here is a list of winning ideas that have been implemented since participatory budgeting in Tartu began in 2013.
Tartu’s participatory budgeting process is organized by the city government’s Public Relations Department, while the E-government Academy counsels preparations and is charged with processing responses.