News & Notes 918:Outcomes of the Community Budgeting Process

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918 icon.jpg   News & Notes 918
16 April 2022

Outcomes of the Community Budgeting Process

Dear community, we are grateful to all who participated in our community budgeting process. The process is now complete, and we would like to share the outcomes and how these are being followed up.

Through this community budgeting process, the BCC aimed to understand:

  1. What do Aurovilians consider to be priority areas for community funding? And how can this be reflected in budgetary allocations?
  2. Are there any key services missing in our community, or existing services that should be budgeted for?
  3. Where should funds come from to support our communal needs?

There were two levels of engagement:

  • A series of presentations, Q&A sessions, and a survey open to the whole community
  • Detailed in-depth facilitated discussions with a randomly selected group of Aurovilians.

18 randomly selected participants engaged in this process, 62 community members responded to the survey, and more attended the community presentations in person and online.

For an overview of the process, please see the following Auronet post:

How did participants feel about the process?

The randomly selected participants shared the following feedback regarding the process:

  • Some participants were not sure if they had enough knowledge or understanding to contribute to the process, but found that the information provided was accessible and made it easy to engage
  • Participants expressed appreciation for the transparency and openness shown throughout the process
  • Participants observed that the process was well organised / well structured and that this supported their participation and ability to arrive at clear outcomes
  • Participants appreciated the ‘random selection’ aspect of the process
  • They shared that they would like to see other Working Groups engage community members through similar processes

What were the outcomes?

1) What do Aurovilians consider to be priority areas for community funding? And how can this be reflected in budgetary allocations?

Randomly selected participants considered the following sectors to the highest priority areas (and should receive more financial support from the City Services budget if needed/possible):

  • Farms / Food
  • Housing
  • Social Support (Maintenances)

Those who participated in the community survey indicated that they strongly agreed with this prioritization.

2) Are there any key services missing in our community, or existing services that should be budgeted for?

Randomly selected participants identified the following as key missing services to be prioritized for City Services funding, in the following order (high to low):

  1. Day Care / Maternity Support
  2. Mentoring and Orientation Service primarily for young people (but all ages welcome) + Cheap social cafe for people of all ages (welcoming and accessible for families, children, new people and older generation)
  3. Food Processing Service
  4. Aquaponic / Hydroponic Food Production
  5. Training & Support for Digital Work (including access to shared equipment)

Those who participated in the community survey agreed with this prioritization (although Training & Support for Digital Work was considered more important than Aquaponic/Hydroponic Food Production).

3) Where should funds come from to support our communal needs?

Randomly selected participants were asked if we should aim to get more or less funding from each existing source to City Services, and whether there were any additional sources we could consider. They felt that income to City Services could increased from:

  • Commercial Units (specifically, by encouraging new units and investing in existing units)
  • Financial Services (specifically, by encouraging more deposits)
  • Services (those that are income-generating)
  • Foreign contributions (which currently are low)
  • Guests (specifically, charging visitors for cultural events)

It was felt that the City Services budget could aim to be independent from GOI funding.

Those who participated in the community survey felt income could be increased from all existing sources.

Commercial Units and Foreign / Indian contributions (other than GOI grants) emerged as top sources for increased income to City Services across both groups.

4) Additional Suggestions Captured

Additional suggestions were captured during the facilitated sessions with the randomly selected participants, and as part of the community survey. These related to:

  • Maintenance
  • Income & Contributions
  • Specific Budget Proposals
  • Service Suggestions
  • Appreciation!

The bodies responsible for reviewing these suggestions have been identified. In some cases, these are groups other than BCC (such as FAMC and the Housing Board); some suggestions require joint reviews between BCC and other groups. The BCC takes responsibility for any required handover or ensuring a joint review.

A more in-depth presentation (including graphs!) is available.

What happens with these outcomes?

  • The BCC has presented these outcomes to the FAMC, who is ultimately responsible for approving the City Services budget.
  • BCC is presently using the budgetary priorities that have emerged from this process in informing the upcoming budget. The BCC keeps in mind these outcomes (priority sectors and missing services) when reviewing new service requests.
  • A BCC-FAMC subgroup is being formed to take forward the specific suggestions related to missing services and income sources to City Services. Some have already been taken up, such as reducing youth housing contributions.

We will keep the community updated with our progress. Thank you for your interest and participation!

The BCC would also like to thank Avinash and Helen, who alongside BCC member Suryamayi played an important role in designing, facilitating, communicating and analyzing the outcomes of this process.

With best wishes,
Your BCC members (Aurosugan, Danny, Enrica, Hans, Mahi, Mathan, Rathinam, Sacha, Suryamayi, Verena), Avinash & Helen