California City Taps Social Media to Help Fix its Budget

This past spring, Santa Cruz, California was facing a $9.2 million deficit. At the same time, the city’s roughly 55,000 citizens were growing increasingly impatient with continued reductions in city services. To help inform residents and tap into community ideas on ways to manage the impending cuts, the city built a website called Santa Cruz City Budget that let people see visual representations of how proposed budgets would be spent and how cuts were translating into lost jobs. But more importantly, the website was interactive. It encouraged citizens to collaborate and participate through polls and comment sections, and it hosted a blog for the Mayor. Nearly 8 percent of the city’s residents registered at the budget website, suggesting ideas and voting on solutions. CivSource has all the details here.