Week Four: “I Hear People Caring Loudly at Me”

This week was one for the books. For everyone who has watched “Parks and Recreation,” we all remember the moment Leslie Knope explains the feeling of town halls and although there was no yelling, there were many moments full of folks caring for their community.

The week was all about taking the budget from proposed to adopted in the City of Durham. It started with budget work sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. These lasted all day and consisted of each department explaining their upcoming budgets, as well as highlights from the previous fiscal year. It was a great opportunity to learn more about what different departments have planned for the coming year. City Council members use this time to understand what is in the proposed budget and ask a variety of questions. This helps ensure they can answer questions that arise from constituents. A photo from the event can be seen below.

After this finished, it was clear that the Council had more information they wanted to discuss about some items in more detail before making a decision. So they will be holding another work session this Thursday to dive deeper on a handful of topics they will decide to fund or remove from the proposed budget. I will be sure to update everyone on these discussions next week.

I am excited that I will now be working on a multi-departmental project about fees in the City of Durham. The team working on the project has not decided which fees to look at, but we are in the brainstorming stages. Once this is decided, we will dive into the data and look at the equity of fees, and what changes could be made to benefit residents that need it the most. Updates will come on this initiative, but I am extremely excited to learn more from our findings.

In other exciting news, Durham reached their Participatory Budgeting goal and in the first year of voting had over 10,000 residents vote on how they want to spend $2.4 million! The votes are still being tallied and the winning projects will be  announced later in June, but it will be great to find out the winners and see the implementation of these projects. I am assisting in tallying the votes, and have loved watching the democratic process.