Residents can bring their ideas to the municipal agenda to vote on its implementation and use of budget, and thus influence political and administrative decisions in the locality.
A PARTICIPATORY BUDGET
Vaida Jakumienė, a newly elected Kretinga District Council member, introduced an initiative based on the participatory budget principle to Kretinga District in 2019: the Residents' Initiative. Kretinga's 25-member Council unanimously approved.
RESIDENTS GET INVOLVED THROUGH PROPOSALS AND VOTES
The Residents' Initiatives project has become a new tool to involve residents in decisionmaking and budget allocation processes. It offers two forms of participation: (1) people can submit their proposals for improving the living environment, and improving or creating new public infrastructure. (2) People can vote and decide which ideas should be implemented and financed by the Kretinga District Municipality. The residents warmly welcomed the project. Introduced as a pioneer project that allows individuals to influence final decisions, around 200 residents from various backgrounds decided to participate. Residents submitted nearly 50 ideas for improving the living environment or creating public infrastructure. Out of these, 43 proposals made it through selection, and 2,630 residents voted for the initiatives they supported the most.
THE MINDSET CHANGES
The project is novel in Kretinga District as it lets individual residents get involved. Other programmes have mostly targeted local organisations, registered communities, or local action groups. The Residents’ Initiatives allow a person to step up and bring their ideas to the municipal plan. Kretinga District has implemented the participatory budget since the beginning of 2020. The project changes the format of the region's politics, and, most importantly, changes the mindset of residents. People have the chance to influence political and administrative decisions which affect their living surroundings, not only during municipal elections but all year round. The high number of participants - around 7.7% of all voters - is a sign of the project's success. This number is three times higher than in comparable pioneer municipalities in Lithuania.
We, elected politicians and local government representatives, need to trust people more. My goal is to make our residents feel trusted, important and needed, to give them more power to influence municipal decisions, not only during the elections. I believe that authorities who share influence with the people they represent not only enhance people‘s trust, but also achieve better results in creating living environment and allocating budget funds.