We’ve come a long way in the process of involving the public through the concept of “participatory budgeting.” And even though the full Merced County Board of Supervisors has voted to end it, my fellow supervisor, Lee Lor, is correct: We won’t stop now.
We won’t stop because the steering committee is in place and has a plan to make sure the process is fair, the proposed projects will be thoroughly vetted and it will all be done in direct sunlight for all to see.
Like Supervisor Lor, I believe in the power of people over politicians. I believe the families of Merced County, who have to balance their own budgets all the time, are responsible, honest and intelligent.
And imagine how much stronger our community will be by allowing these residents to invest in themselves? The additional skills they will learn firsthand – gaining a deeper understanding of the budget and how it functions, building powerful relationships and working with a variety of groups – are invaluable.
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Even though for now the project funds will be removed from the budget for fiscal year 2017-18, the spirit of participation and collaboration will continue. Supervisor Lor and I will continue to help develop leaders, promote civic engagement and encourage families because we trust Merced residents.
Rodrigo Espinoza represents District 1 on the Merced County Board of Supervisors. He wrote this for the Merced Sun-Star.