Durham City Council wants to know how you would spend $500,000

The Bull City is poised to be the next home for "participatory budgeting," a process by which residents will directly choose how and where to spend a small percentage of the city's budget.

According to members of the City Council, a pending vote in Monday's meeting will set aside anywhere from $500,000 to as much as $2.5 million, and set up a process by which residents ages 13 and up can submit ideas to spend the money (the full city budget is expected to be around $500 million).

"It's a vote of confidence in democracy," council member Mark-Anthony Middleton tells ABC11. "Bus shelters, neighborhood gardens, clean ups, mentoring programs. You just don't know what they're going to come up with and that's part of the excitement."

Middleton adds that there will be a steering committee that oversees how residents can pitch and vote on ideas, but that's also part of the debate he expects to have with his colleagues on Monday.

"I tell folks all the time that you can only spend money once in governance."

Durham would not be the first to engage residents in this way. The City of Greensboro adopted participatory budgeting in 2015, including $500,000 divided equally among the five City Council districts for residents to decide upon for capital projects.
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