Bankrupt Cities

Bankrupt City Asks Voters How It Should Spend Money

Not that Americans have shown much sense on financial issues

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A California city that recently emerged from bankruptcy is taking a new approach to budgeting—this time, by asking voters how it should spend the taxpayers' money. 

The question is being put to residents in Vallejo, Calif., a blue-collar port city of 116,000 people. 

Under a pilot program, Vallejo is using what is known as "participatory budgeting" to figure out where to spend a $3.2 million portion of Measure B, a city tax initiative approved last year. At public assemblies throughout the next few weeks, involved residents are brainstorming ideas—from youth centers to after school programs, from new playgrounds to music festivals. Any civic project or service will be considered, so long as it fits the financial constraints, and benefits the community.