Participatory Budgeting has always been a misnomer, because very few Greensboro residents participate. But since the funding was also taken out of the 2023-2024 budget, a more accurate name would be Non-participatory Unbudgeted.
Despite the fact that people don’t participate and the City Council doesn’t fund it, Participatory Budgeting was one of the two topics on the agenda for the Thursday, Sept. 28 work session.
The idea behind Participatory Budgeting is that each City Council district is allocated $100,000 and a vote of the residents aged 15 and over decide how that money will be spent. At some point citywide projects were also added, which seems to defeat the whole idea of each council district receiving its own slush fund.
The report has demographic data on the people who actually participate in the process, and those numbers may cause problems for Participatory Budgeting to be included in future budgets.
According to the report, while 39.5 percent of the population of Greensboro is white, 72 percent of those who voted for Participatory Budgeting projects are white. And 43.1 percent of the Greensboro population is black but only 15 percent of those who voted for Participatory Budgeting projects are black.
No American Indians, Asians or Hispanics voted for Participatory Budgeting projects, even though Hispanics make up 8.4 percent of the population, Asians 5.3 percent and American Indians 0.4 percent.
Women also voted in much larger numbers than men, with 67 percent of the votes being cast by women and only 27 percent by men.
As far as income goes, those who make more than $100,000 a year made up 33 percent of the voters while only being 21 percent of the population. At the other end of the income spectrum, those whose income is less than $20,000 a year make up 19 percent of the population in Greensboro but only 3 percent of the Participatory Budgeting voters.
As far as City Council Districts go, District 4, represented by Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann, had the most participation with 714 voters, and District 2, represented by Councilmember Goldie Wells, had the least with 218 voters.
A project in District 2, Keeley Park Adaptive Bike Equipment, won $50,000 in funding with just 75 votes.