Local government is as complex as running a small country. That was the conclusion drawn by one of the panel members during the historic Participatory Budgeting process undertaken by the City of Greater Geraldton over the last six months.
Members of the Panel which deliberated on the range and level of services provided by the City told Councillors Tuesday night (April 22) that they had seen first-hand the complexity of local government.
Panel members who met for seven weekend workshops to analyse and make recommendations on the City’s multi-million dollar service provision budget, presented their final recommendations to Council Tuesday night.
According to Rob Pilliner, one of the panellists, the process provided an insight into the complexity of local government.
He also said that he, like other panel members, was initially sceptical of the process of Participatory Budgeting.
“The nature and complexity of process daunted many of us and we initially struggled with the concept of ever reaching tangible and coherent recommendations with the range of personalities, background and priorities,” he said.
However he said that, in the end, all the panel members were from the Geraldton community and they collectively represented the needs and aspirations of the community.
The panel members were chosen at random from the Geraldton community. Deliberations around the range and level of services was the second Participatory Budgeting program. The first resulted in a series of recommendations adopted by Council in January that will feed into the Council’s Ten Year Capital Works Plan.
Accepting the report, City Deputy Mayor, Cr Neil McIlwaine, said the Participatory Budgeting process is part of a whole package of changes being implemented by the City to make decision making more open, transparent and inclusive.
“Under the banner of a program called #changesCGGcommunity my Councillors and I, and the City staff are working very hard to open up decision making to the community, while ensuring the integrity of the decision making process,” he said.
“The two Participatory Budgeting programs which have run over the last six months are examples of how the Council is serious about this.
Cr McIlwaine said that Council had been very brave to initiate this type of decision making and that it was the first time it had been done to this extent in Australia.