Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


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Tomkins, A. J., Hoppe, R. D., Herian, M. N., PytlikZillig, L. M., Abdel-Monem, T., & Shank, N. C. (2012). Public input for city budgeting using e-input, face-to-face discussions, and random sample surveys: The willingness of an American community to increase taxes. Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Government (Vol. 2), 12, 698-707.


Regular public input into a city's budget is frequently associated with municipal budgeting in Brazilian cities, successes in public engagement that have been emulated around the world. American communities are adopting the practice to varying degrees. This paper will report on a five-year old public input program that is taking place in Lincoln, Nebraska, the capital city of a politically conservative state in the U.S. We discuss the processes we use to engage the public about the City's budget. The process includes regular online input as well as face-to-face, deliberative discussions. On occasions, random sample surveys also have been used. The public's input has been helpful to City Hall in budget prioritization, and has even resulted, pursuant to residents' recommendations, in raising taxes to preserve programs rather than eliminating them to balance the City's budget. In an era of concern that the American public will not endorse tax increases, the recommendation was surprising. Our work to date indicates the public welcomes the invitation to participate in governance and responds positively to the opportunity to provide input and is willing to endorse policy options that have been thought to be unpopular by a majority of Americans.