Participatory Budgeting

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Introduction to the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Project from Alderman Joe Moore

Dear Neighbor,

Around the United States and here in Chicago, city leaders are increasingly asking residents for suggestions about budget spending.  Here in the 49th Ward, we're going one step further.  Through a novel experiment in democracy, I'm not just asking for your opinion--I'm asking you to make real decisions about how we spend our money.

Over the past four years, I've asked my constituents--the residents of the 49th Ward--to decide how to spend $1 million in tax dollars.

Each alderman in Chicago gets over $1 million a year to allocate for various infrastructure improvements in his or her ward.  This so-called "menu money" goes to resurface streets and alleys, repair sidewalks and curbs and gutters, put in new streetlights, and the like. I've also used the money to subsidize special infrastructure projects, such as the Harold Washington Playlot and the Willye White Community Center.  This menu money is spent at the total discretion of each alderman.

Beginning with the 2009-10 budget cycle, I have ceded my decision-making authority to the residents of my ward through a process known as Participatory Budgeting, or "PB49," in which all 49th Ward residents are eligible to vote directly on the infrastructure projects that are funded in our community.  

The 49th Ward is the first political jurisdiction in the nation to adopt such an approach to public spending, and it's been so well-received that I have pledged to make it a permanent fixture in the ward.  Word of our success has spread.  This year, three other Chicago aldermen have pledged to use participatory budgeting to decide how to spend their aldermanic menu money and other cities in the U.S., including New York City and Vallejo, California, are emulating our model.

Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which ordinary residents decide how to allocate part of a municipal budget.  In essence, how it works is that the municipal authorities turn over a portion of their budget to community residents who decide the spending priorities.

To learn more about participatory budgeting and its implementation worldwide, visit the website of the Particpatory Budgeting Project:

In April 2009, I brought together leaders of over 50 civic, religious and community organizations in the 49th Ward, and asked them to appoint one or two representatives from their organizations to serve on a steering committee to design a participatory budgeting process for the 49th Ward.  The Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee was chaired by Jamiko Rose, Executive Director of the Organization of the Northeast.

An organization known as The Participatory Budgeting Project, led by Gianpaolo Baiocchi (Brown University), and Josh Lerner (The New School for Social Research), provided guidance and technical assistance for this initiative. Additional support was provided by the Institute for Policy Studies, the Watson Institute, and the New World Foundation.

After several months of meetings, the Steering Committee developed a process and timetable that culminated in a ward-wide election in April, 2010, when over 1,600 49th Ward residents voted on the 49th Ward infrastructure spending priorities for 2010.

For a copy of the results of the PB49  election results from 2010 through 2014, CLICK HERE

The 2015-16 PB49 process will begin with a format that tracks closely the four-step process we've employed the previous six years.  A "Leadership Committee" consisting of individuals who served either on last year's Steering Committee or as a Community Representative will oversee the process.  The process is as follows:

Step 1--Neighborhood Assembly Meetings (November, 2015)

A series of "neighborhood assemblies" are held throughout the ward, including a Spanish language assembly.  The neighborhood assemblies are open to any 49th Ward resident.  At each neighborhood assembly, the attendees will be given brief description of the infrastructure menu program and the participatory budgeting process.  Meeting attendees will then be asked to brainstorm ideas for possible uses of the infrastructure menu money. 

At the conclusion of each meeting, we will ask for volunteers to serve as "community representatives" who will be charged with developing proposals for spending the 49th Ward's 2016 infrastructure menu allocation.

Pick the day and location that is most convenient for you and bring your appetite.  Pizza and refreshments courtesy of JB Alberto's Pizza will be served at all evening Neighborhood Assemblies.

For a schedule of the PB49 Neighborhood Assemblies, CLICK HERE.

Step 2--Community Representative Meetings (December, 2015-March, 2016)

The community representatives will meet to develop proposals for use of the infrastructure menu money to be presented at a ward-wide assembly in the spring.  The representatives, at their discretion, may call additional neighborhood assembly meetings to solicit additional suggestions and bounce off ideas.

Step 3--Final Round of Neighborhood Assembly Meetings to Present Project Proposals to the Community (March-April, 2016)

The community representatives will present their preliminary proposals for the 2016 Aldermanic Menu at two Neighborhood Assemblies held in the north and south sections of the 49th Ward.  Based on community input provided at the neighborhood assemblies, the community representatives may refine their proposals before submitting them to a final vote at the April 2016 PB49 election.

Step 4--Election to Determine the 2016 Infrastructure Spending Priorities (April, 2016)

In the final step of the process, community residents will gather at a ward-wide assembly to deliberate and vote on the 2016 infrastructure spending priorities for the 49th Ward.

This experiment in democracy will not work unless we have full and complete participation from all sectors of our diverse community, so I urge you to attend one of the neighborhood assemblies and bring your 49th Ward friends and neighbors.  Most importantly, I urge you to bring your ideas.

I have full faith that the residents of the 49th Ward can decide what's best for our neighborhood, when given enough time, information, and support.


Joe Moore

Neighborhood Assembly Schedule for Step 1 of the 2015-16 Participatory Budgeting Process

(Note: Complimentary pizza will be provided at 6:30 p.m. before all evening meetings and donuts and coffee will be provided at 9:30 a.m. before the Saturday, Nov. 21, morning meeting.)

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m., Sullivan High School, 6631 N. Bosworth

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m., Paschen Park Fieldhouse, 1932 W. Lunt

Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Pottawattomie Park Fieldhouse, 7340 N. Rogers

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., St. Jerome Church Parish Center, 1709 W. Lunt (Spanish language)

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse, 3rd floor

Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m., Loyola Park Fieldhouse, 1230 W. Greenleaf 

Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m., Willye White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard

Election Results in Previous Years

For complete election results for the 2010-2015 PB49 Participatory Budgeting Elections, including descriptions of the proposed projects and the number of votes each proposal received, click on the attachments below:

icon 2015 election results.pdf (217 KB)

icon 2014_Election_Results.pdf (197 KB) 

icon 2013 Election Results.pdf (155 KB)

 icon 2012_Election_Results.pdf (110 KB)

icon 2011_Election_Results.pdf (109 KB)

icon 2010_Election_Results.pdf (152 KB)


PB49 Project Updates


Update on PB 2010 Menu Projects

October 2015 Update

Bike Lanes on Touhy, Ashlad & Rogers (Phase I). COMPLETED. Initially delayed due to a shortage of striping materials (light-reflective paint), the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) completed the work in Summer 2011.

Bike Racks (Artistic). PENDING. The PB Leadership Committee decided that the designated funds will be used to manufacture "custom racks" that include an original Rogers Park inspired design within a standard staple rack. In addition, traditional staple racks of a matching color will be purchased and installed. A beachscape-inspired design by a local artist was selected in a community-wide vote.The racks have been scheduled to be manufactured and installed in 2016.

Community Garden at Dubkin Park. COMPLETED. Built by Department of Environment (DOE) GreenCorps in late Summer 2011. Planted in Spring 2012, the garden has been in operation annually.

Convenience Shower at Loyola Park. COMPLETED. Situated outside near the Loyola Field House. Completed in Summer 2011.

CTA Heating Shelters with Benches. COMPLETED. Installed at the Jarvis, Morse and Loyola Stations in Spring 2011. With the 2012 renovations of these stops, PB49 will work with the CTA to insure reinstallation of these shelters or comparable improvements to the stations.

Dog-Friendly Area (DFA)/Dog Park at Pottawattomie Park. COMPLETED. Constructed in Fall 2011. Now named Paw-ttawattomie Park, the DFA is overseen by a community-based committee.

Path Completion in Touhy Park. COMPLETED. Partial path in the park was extended in Fall 2010.

Sidewalk Repairs. COMPLETED in terms of full expenditure of the approved funding. Fifteen of the twenty-seven originally identified sites were repaired. But the City significantly increased scope and cost of repairs, so the final costs were considerably higher than the originally approved funding. The remaining sites in the worst condition were placed on the 2012 ballot, received funding and were repaired.

Traffic/Pedestrian Signal on Clark at Chase. PENDING. Final estimate from the City was significantly higher than the original. As the crossing is by a school, funding is being sought from both City and State agencies.

Solar-Powered Garbage Containers on Sheridan. COMPLETED. Eight Big-Bellies have been installed at various corners along Sheridan Road. Locations all approved by the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

Street Resurfacing: 

  • Lunt, Ashland to Ravenswood, Ashland to Clark. COMPLETED.
  • Clark to Ravenswood, PENDING due to Water Management.

Historical Signs for Rogers Park. CANCELLED. CDOT/Streetscape Division provided design and manufacturing costs that exceeded the original estimates several fold. Originally seven signs were envisioned, but the funding would only pay for one and a half. Based on this new reality, the PB49 Leadership Committee voted to cancel the initiative and place the funds back into reserve.

Street Lights on Morse. COMPLETED. The project was originally for residential lights (two-bulb upper and lower lights), but was changed to ornamental lights to complete the Morse Avenue Streetscape lights from Wayne to Morse. Lights were installed in Fall 2011.

Underpass Murals. COMPLETED. Project started with a published RFP, resulting in 160 entries from local artists. Reduced to 24 finalists by an expert panel, and 13 designs chosen by popular vote at the 2010 Glenwood Sunday Market. Completed murals grace both Union Pacific/Metra and CTA underpasses.



Update on PB 2011 Menu Projects

October 2015 Update 


Bike Lanes on Albion, Eastlake & Pratt (Phase II) Chicago Department of transportation (CDOT) project.

  • Contra-flow bike lane on Albion. COMPLETED.
  • Pratt – PENDING. These will now be part of a ward-wide bike network. Planning started in 2014 and continues in 2015. A community meeting is pending to present the options before is scheduled for installation in 2016. 
  • Eastlake - CANCELLED per CDOT as inappropriate location

Bike Racks. PENDING. These funds will be used in conjunction with the 2010 Artistic Bike Rack Project. See “PB 2010 Menu Projects.”

Improvements to Ridge, Touhy, Rogers Intersection. PENDING. Community input was sought in March 2015. CDOT presented slightly revised options at a September community meeting, which failed to achieve consensus. CDOT engineers are now considering a plan to possibly to include a left turn signal for eastbound Rogers traffic at Ridge.

Improvements to Metra Underpasses at Birchwood, Estes & Touhy. PENDING. Joint effort by CDOT and Union Pacific. Project to include washing, lighting, repainting, and pigeon abatement.

New Playground at Touhy Park. COMPLETED. One-third of project cost approved by 2011 vote. Other two-thirds funding from 2012 vote and Chicago Park District.

Path Extensions at Leone & Loyola Park at Morse. COMPLETED. Both have been constructed, giving beach access to people using wheelchairs.

Street Resurfacing. Completion dates vary with location:

  • 1200-1500 W. Pratt – COMPLETED.
  • 6800-7000 N. Wolcott – COMPLETED.
  • 7400-7600 N. Wolcott – COMPLETED.
  • 1400-1500 W. Jarvis – COMPLETED.
  • 1200-1300 W. Columbia – COMPLETED.


Update on PB 2012 Menu Projects

October 2015 Update 

New Playground at Touhy Park. COMPLETED. One-third of project cost approved by 2012 vote. Other two-thirds funding from 2011 vote and Chicago Park District.

Sidewalk Repairs

  • 7200 & 7300 blocks of N. Claremont. COMPLETED.
  • 2300 block of W. Chase. COMPLETED.
  • 1300 block of W. Touhy. COMPLETED.

Street Resurfacing

  • 2000-2100 W. Jarvis COMPLETED.
  • 1750 W. MorseCOMPLETED.
  • 1700-1734 W. North ShoreCOMPLETED.
  • 7600 N. BosworthCOMPLETED.
  • 7050-7100 N. GlenwoodCOMPLETED.
  • 6800 N. Ravenswood (west side of tracks) - COMPLETED.
  • 7600 N. Marshfield (alley) - PENDING. Working with CDOT.

Tree Planting. COMPLETED. The City planted 139 new trees in the parkways of the Ward. The locations chosen were a combination of constituent requests to the City's 311 system, surveys by the PB49 Arts & Innovation Committee members, and suggestions by Chicago's Department of Forestry.

Underpass Murals. COMPLETED.  Project started with a published RFP, resulting in over 150 entries from local artists from which an expert panel chose the 20 winning entries. Completed murals grace both Union Pacific/Metra and CTA underpasses. The last four murals were completed in the fall of 2014


Update on PB 2013 Menu Projects

October 2015 Update

Cobblestone Restoration on Glenwood, Farwell to Lunt -  CANCELLED. The PB LC Decided to cancel this project due to cost. 

Shared Bike Lanes on Clark, Howard to Albion - PENDING. These will now be part of a ward-wide bike network. Planning started in 2014 and continues in 2015. A community meeting is scheduled for December 2015 to present the options before its scheduled for installation in 2016. 

Multiple Sidewalk Repairs - COMPLETED.

Sheridan Road Pedestrian Safety Engineering Study – PENDING. The money that was allocated was not enough to do a comprehensive study by CDOT.

Touhy Park: Six Crabapple Trees & Water Fountain - COMPLETED.

Street Lights:

  • 1400-1600 W. Juneway - COMPLETED.
  • 1500 W. Greenleaf - COMPLETED.
  • 1500 W. Chase – Moved to PB ballot 2014.

Street Resurfacing:

  • 1500 Estes - COMPLETED.
  • 1800 Morse - COMPLETED.
  • 6900 Ravenswood - COMPLETED.
  • 6950 Ravenswood - COMPLETED.
  • 7400 Seeley - COMPLETED.
  • 6600 Newgard - COMPLETED.
  • 6500 Greenview - COMPLETED.
  • 1700 Columbia - COMPLETED.
  • 7300 BellCOMPLETED.


Update on PB 2014 Menu Projects

September 2015 Update

Bus Stop Benches. COMPLETED. Fifteen new black metal benches have been installed at bus stops.

Carpet Replacement at the Rogers Park Library. COMPLETED. New carpeting with removable tiles was installed in the Library in the Fall of 2014. In addition to the basic project, the Library was able to have walls painted, electrical cords organized and hidden, textile artwork cleaned, and more.

New Water Feature at Pottawattomie Park. COMPLETED. The old non-functioning water feature has been replaced with a new, more durable installation.

Beach Bath Extension at Hartigan Beach. COMPLETED. A ramp has been installed from the existing sidewalk to the water to provide access to the lake for people in wheelchairs and with strollers.

Street Lighting:

  • 1500 W. Chase - PENDING. It was transferred from the PB 2014 Ballot. To be done in Fall 2015.
  • 6600 N. Glenwood - CANCELLED due to cost implications given the location of the connections.
  • 7300 N. Greenview - PENDING. To be done in Fall 2015.


  • 1714 W. Jarvis – COMPLETED.
  • 1711 W. Greenleaf – COMPLETED.
  • 7450-7600 N. Wolcott – COMPLETED.

Street Resurfacing:

  • 7450 & 7500 N. RidgeCOMPLETED.
  • 7500 N. EastlakeCOMPLETED.
  • 1200 W. BirchwoodCOMPLETED.
  • 7700 N. Marshfield (alley) - PENDING. Transferred to 2014
  • 7000-7200 N. PaulinaCOMPLETED.
  • 1600 W. GreenleafCOMPLETED.
  • 1400-1700 W. EstesCOMPLETED.

Update on PB 2015 Menu Projects

October 2015 Update 

Park Improvements. PENDING. Install new drinking fountain in the hallway of Pottawattomie Park, as the only current drinking fountain is in the men’s washroom; install an outdoor drinking fountain at Goldberg Playlot; and install gates at Goldberg and Washington Playlots. To be ready in the Spring of 2016. 

More Trees For Rogers Park. IN PROGRESS. Like in 2012 the community voted to get more trees around the 49th Ward. More than 100 new trees will be planted in the parkways throughout the Ward. The Department of Forestry sent a initial list of 311 requests that have been previously surveyed by them. This list was combined with other community requests and sent to Forestry in August. The trees are expected to be planted in the fall of 2015.

Improved Pedestrian Crossing at Clark and Chase. PENDING. Install curb cuts, accessible ramps, a crosswalk and signage at the north side of Chase crossing Clark.

New Bus Benches. IN PROGRESS. Install bus benches at 6 locations, including Clark and Rogers (both sides). Clark and Birchwood, Howard and Sheridan, Rogers and Greenview, and Ashland and Morse. Planning to be done by December 2015.

Underpass Murals. IN PROGRESS. Similar to 2010 and 2012, ward residents voted to Paint murals on five CTA and Metra viaducts. An RFP solicited proposals from Rogers Park artists. A panel of judges selected five proposals. The murals are expected to be painted between Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016.

Mini Astroturf Soccer Field at Langdon Park. COMPLETED. Replace an old, unused basketball court with a space for kids to practice soccer. Project was completed in September 2015.

Street Resurfacing:

  • 7450–7500 N. Damen – Fargo to Birchwood COMPLETED.
  • 7000–7034 N. Glenwood (Southbound) – Lunt to Greenleaf COMPLETED.
  • 7400–7450 N. Hoyne – Jarvis to Fargo – COMPLETED.
  • 6600–6630 N. Ravenswood – Albion to Wallen – COMPLETED.
  • 66306700 N. Ravenswood – Wallen to North Shore – COMPLETED.
  • 67006730 N. Ravenswood – North Shore to Columbia – COMPLETED.
  • 67306800 N. Ravenswood – Columbia to Pratt – COMPLETED.

Alley Resurfacing and Alley Apron Repair: 

  • 7600 N. Rogers (alley between Rogers and Jonquil, Greenview and Sheridan)  IN PROGRESS. Flooding issue. Waiting for cost to install a french drain.
  • 7600 N. Bosworth (alley between Bosworth and Willye White Park, Howard and Jonquil) – COMPLETED.  
  • 7400 N. Sheridan (alley between Sheridan and Greenview, Jarvis and Fargo) – COMPLETED. 
  • 7450 N. Sheridan (alley between Sheridan and Greenview, Fargo and Birchwood) – COMPLETED. 
  • 6814 N. Ravenswood (alley apron only) COMPLETED.

Sidewalk Repairs: 

  • 7423 N. Ridge – COMPLETED.
  • 2120 W. Fargo – COMPLETED.
  • 7441 N. Ridge – COMPLETED.
  • 7301–7333 N. Ridge – COMPLETED.
  • 7061–7069 N. Ridge – COMPLETED.
  • 7001–7027 N. Ridge COMPLETED.
  • 2025–2041 W. Jarvis  COMPLETED. 


What Types of Projects are Eligible for Funding in the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Process?

The "Aldermanic Menu" funds that are subject to the Participatory Budgeting process can be spent on any project that acquires, develops, maintains or improves a publicly owned capital asset, often called "infrastructure."

Eligible projects include:

  • Street resurfacing
  • Street lights
  • Sidewalks
  • Curb and gutters
  • Catwalks and courtesy walks
  • Guardrails
  • Traffic signals
  • Benches
  • Bike racks
  • Playgrounds 
  • Security cameras
  • Catwalks and courtesy walks
  • Trash cans
  • Community gardens
  • Artistic murals
  • El platform/station improvements
  • Construction of or major renovations to public buildings

Note:  This list is NOT inclusive of all of the projects eligible for funding under the "Aldermanic Menu" program.  Menu money can be spent on capital projects only, but you can propose project ideas beyond what is listed here.  This list is meant only to offer examples of the type of projects that the Aldermanic Menu money has funded in previous years. 

The "Aldermanic Menu" funds cannot be used to subsidize personnel costs, services, programs and other operational costs, nor can they be used to improve privately owned capital assets.

Projects NOT eligible for funding include:

  • Personnel costs (e.g., salaries and benefits for teachers, police, fire, health care workers and any other public or private employees)
  • Services (e.g., health care services, homeless services, "Meals on Wheels," etc.)
  • Programs (e.g., after school programs, day care, tutoring, sports activities, etc.)
  • Minor repairs to public buildings
  • Extended hours at parks/libraries and other public facilities
  • Improvements to facilities owned by not-for-profit organizations, houses of worship, and privately owned homes and businesses

How to Submit a Project Proposal or Suggestion

If you have a proposal or suggestion for a particular project that you believe qualifies for funding under the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting process, please visit the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting blog and post your idea in the Comments section:

Alternatively, contact Cecelia Salinas, Alderman Joe Moore's Participatory Budgeting liaison at or 773-338-5796.

Previous Years' "Aldermanic Menu" Expenditures


Type of ProjectLocationsAmount Spent%of Total Expenditure
Street Resurfacing10$937,278 61%
Street Lighting4$325,000 21%
Sidewalk Repairs7$92,889 6%
Morse Ave. Design1$65,000 4%
Curbs and Gutters6$60,143 4%
Alley Resurfacing2$48,596 3%
Alley Speed Humps10$8,225 1%
Street Speed Humps1$3,500 <1%
Total Expenditure $1,540,631  


Type of ProjectLocationsAmount Spent% of Total Expenditure
Street Lighting8$1,001,300 73%
Street Resurfacing6$181,219 13%
Sidewalks9$88,744 6%
Alley Resurfacing1$44,637 3%
Police Camera1$36,000 3%
Curbs/Gutters3$23,091 2%
Alley Speed Humps5$2,500 <1%
Bollard1$1,428 <1%
Total Expenditure $1,378,919  


Type of ProjectLocationsAmount Spent% of Total Expenditure
Street Lighting6$705,000 51%
Alley Resurfacing7$199,614 14%
Street Resurfacing2$195,87714%
Sidewalks11$126,144 9%
Curbs/Gutters5$92,943 7%
Morse Ave. Design1$65,000 5%
Street Speed Humps2$4,950 <1%
Alley Speed Humps3$3,000 <1%
Guardrail1$2,089 <1%
Total Expenditure $1,394,617  


Type of Project LocationsAmount Spent% of Total Expenditure
Street Lighting12$764,000 53%
Gale Community Center1$400,000 28%
Police Camera2$72,000 5%
Sidewalks4$52,500 4%
Curbs/Gutters1$50,634 4%
Speed Humps10$24,250 2%
Tree Gates1$24,045 2%
Street Resurfacing1$23,434 2%
Alley Resurfacing4$20,5601%
Alley Speed Humps5$2,500 <1%
Bollard1$1,293 <1%
Total Expenditure $1,435,216  


Type of ProjectLocationsAmount Spent% of Total Expenditure
Street Lighting13$983,736 75%
Street Resurfacing10$243,713 19%
Sidewalk Repairs3$48,352 4%
Curb/Gutter Repairs1$32,324 2%
Street Speed Humps5$7,500 <1%
Alley Speed Humps3$4,375 <1%
Total Expenditure $1,315,625  


Type of ProjectAmount Spent%of Total Expenditure
Street Lighting$1,044,700 89%
Chicago Park District$127,500 11%
Total Expenditure$1,172,200  

Allocation of a specific percentage of the Aldermanic Menu budget to Street Resurfacing 

At the conclusion of the 2010 participatory budgeting process, Alderman Moore asked for volunteers who had worked on the process to serve on a "Leadership Committee" to evaluate the process and come up with recommendations for improvement.  This volunteer group of neighborhood residents recommended one significant change to the process--that a specific percentage of the 49th Ward aldermanic infrastructure budget be allocated to street resurfacing.

This recommendation was made a part of the 2011 PB49 Participatory Budgeting election process and will be a part of the 2012 election process. 

Reasons for the Recommendation  

Though most neighborhood residents support the participatory budgeting process, many expressed concern that traditional "nuts and bolts" infrastructure improvements, such as street resurfacing, may not have received the attention and funding they deserved.  Of the seven street resurfacing proposals on the ballot, only one garnered enough votes to receive funding out of the 2010 aldermanic menu.  This is likely because most of the winning proposals, such as artistic murals and dog friendly areas, had a ward-wide constituency, whereas the constituency for a specific street resurfacing proposal is limited to those who live on or use that street.

Most of the residential streets in the 49th Ward were last resurfaced in the late 1990s and are beginning to show their wear.  Though most residents agree that our residential streets deserve attention, the participatory budgeting vote process was set up in a way that may have unintentionally shortchanged block-specific proposals.

How the 2010 Participatory Budgeting Election Worked

Thirty-six individual proposals appeared on the April 2010 participatory budgeting ballot.  Each voter was entitled to vote for up to eight projects.  The project proposals that won the most votes up to the 49th Ward's $1.3 million capital budget allocation were submitted to the City of Chicago and its sister agencies for implementation.

How the Election Process Now Works

Just as in the 2010 election, a list of individual project proposals, including street resurfacing proposals, appears on the participatory budgeting ballot and voters will be asked to vote for up to eight projects. 

In addition, a separate question appears on the ballot asking voters to vote on a specific percentage of the aldermanic menu budget that should be devoted exclusively to street resurfacing.  The voters are asked to vote for one of eleven options ranging from 0% to 100% (i.e., 0%, 10%, 20 %, 30 % and so on up to 100%).  To enable the voters to make an informed decision, the ballot question will include the estimated cost of resurfacing an average block in the ward and the number of resurfaced blocks and budget amount each percentage represents.  

This is how the ballot question appears on last year's ballot:

Once the polls have closed, the votes on this separate question is tallied and an average calculated.  That average will determine the percentage of the aldermanic menu budget that will be devoted exclusively to street resurfacing.

The street resurfacing proposals that win the most votes up to that percentage allocation will be submitted to the City for resurfacing.  The remaining budget percentage will be allocated to the other project proposals that win the most votes.

Here's what happened last year.  The voters collectively determined on average that 57.2% of the ward's menu money should be allocated to street resurfacing.  That meant that 57.2% of the $1 million PB budget, or $572,000, was set aside for street resurfacing only.  As a result, approximately 12 city blocks will be resurfaced.

The remainder of the 49th Ward aldermanic menu budget, or $428,000, was allocated to the other top vote-getting proposals.

Though this might appear rather confusing at first, the Leadership Committee and Alderman Moore believe it allows for a way to address a basic ward infrastructure need while still remaining true to the spirit of participatory budgeting of allowing the residents to determine how their tax dollars will be spent.

Articles and Blog Posts on the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Project

"Combining Technology and Participatory Budgeting For Direct Democracy"
Microsoft Chicago
August 21, 2014

"Rahm to Take Ald. Moore's Participatory Budget Concept Citywide"
DNAinfo Chicago
October 23, 2013

"49th Ward Residents Kick Off First 2014 Participatory Budgeting Meeting"
Progress Illinois
October 2, 2013 

"Participatory Budgeting Expands to Four Chicago Wards"
WBEZ Radio
October 3, 2012

"Chicago Brings Participatory Budgeting to the U.S."
July 2012

"'Participatory Budgeting 101:' Time to Check Your Baggage"
June 17, 2012

"Chicago Ward Gives Budgetary Power To The People"
National Public Radio
May 26, 2012

"Putting in Their 2 Cents"
New York Times
March 30, 2012

"Central Brooklyn Residents have a Say on Spending"
Crains New York Business
March 25, 2012

"4 Council Members, Each With $1 Million, Will Let Public Decide How It's Spent"
New York Times
September 13, 2011

"Participatory Budgeting Proposed for Greensboro"
Yes! Weekly
June 22, 2011

"The Year's Top Underreported Stories of Hope and Creative Change: Citizen Budgeting Comes to the U.S."
Yes! Magazine Project Censored Awards 2009-10
September 13, 2010

"Choose Your Own Budget:  Chicagoans Cut Out the Elected Middle Man to Improve Their Neighborhood With $1.3 million in Taxes"
In These Times
May 17, 2010

"How to Make Democracy Bloom: Participatory Government Works Well, But it Only Lasts When it is Enshrined in Law"
Chicago Journal
April 21, 2010

"Residents Vote on RoPo Spending"
Loyola Phoenix
April 21, 2010

"Chicago's $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy"
Yes! Magazine
April 20, 2010

"Alderman Gives Residents Choice"
Columbia Chronicle
April 19, 2010

"Citizens Speak; Alderman to Improve Rogers Park Rail Stations With City Funds"
CTA Tattler
April 14, 2010

"Rogers Park Supports Her Artists
Rogers Park Examiner
April 13, 2010

"Voters Choose to Improve CTA Red Line"
Going Public
April 11, 2010

"Chicago Alderman Lets Voters Decide Spending"
Fox Chicago News
April 10, 2010

"Residents Participate in Spending Tax Dollars"
Chicago Breaking News Center
April 10, 2010

"49th Ward Residents Vote on Budget"
WBEZ Radio
April 10, 2010

"Chicago Ward Residents Take Democracy Into Their Own Hands"
Medill Reports
April 8, 2010

"Want a Train Station Bench? Ask Your Alderman"
CTA Tattler
April 8, 2010

"Spending Out In the Open for 49th Ward"
By Alderman Joe Moore
Chicago Tribune
March 31, 2010

"Chicago Ward Tries Citizen Budgeting"
Yes! Magazine
February 26, 2010

"Participatory Budgeting #2 - At the Neighborhood Assembly" 
Prairie State Blue
December 3, 2009

"A 'Grand Experiment' in Budgeting"
Progress Illinois
December 3, 2009

Alderman Joe Moore's Op Ed on the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Project

Spending Out in the Open for 49th Ward

Chicago Tribune 
March 31, 2010

by Alderman Joe Moore

From Chicago's City Hall to the halls of Congress, important policy and spending decisions have been made for far too long by a handful of politicians behind closed doors working in concert with corporations and special interests. This old way of doing the public's business has bred anger and mistrust of all levels of government.

It shouldn't come as any surprise, then, that only 1 out of 5 Americans trusts government to do what is right most of the time. Citizens don't believe their government listens to them and they don't believe they have any power to affect public policy.

This anger and mistrust aren't healthy for democracy. We need a new governance model, one that empowers people to make real decisions about policy and spending decisions.

As a Chicago alderman, I have embarked on an innovative alternative to the old style of decision-making. In an experiment in democracy, transparent governance and economic reform, I'm letting the residents of the 49th Ward in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities decide how to spend my entire discretionary capital budget of more than $1.3 million.

Known as "participatory budgeting," this form of democracy is being used worldwide, from Brazil to the United Kingdom and Canada. It lets the community decide how to spend part of a government budget, through a series of meetings and ultimately a final, binding vote.

Though I'm the first elected official in the U.S. to implement participatory budgeting, it's not a whole lot different than the old New England town meetings in which residents would gather to vote directly on the spending decisions of their town.

Residents in my ward have met for the past year - developing a rule book for the process, gathering project ideas from their neighbors and researching and budgeting project ideas. These range from public art to street resurfacing and police cameras to bike paths. The residents then pitched their proposals to their neighbors at a series of neighborhood "assemblies" held throughout the ward.

The process will culminate in an election on April 10, in which all 49th Ward residents 16 and older, regardless of citizenship or voter registration status, are invited to gather at a local high school to vote for up to eight projects, one vote per project. This process is binding. The projects that win the most votes will be funded up to $1.3 million.

Though the process isn't yet complete, it's already yielding positive results. Hundreds of residents in the 49th Ward, many of whom had never before been involved in a civic activity, have become engaged in the participatory budgeting process. Rather than being passive observers of government they've become active participants in governing.

More important, they know they have the power to make decisions, and that their government is not just hearing them but actually following their mandate.
Empowering people to make real decisions openly and transparently is the first step toward restoring public trust in government.

Joe Moore is the alderman for Chicago's 49th Ward.

Videos on the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Process

"Democracy in Action, Participatory Budgeting in the 49th Ward"
Documentary (approx. 5 minutes)

"Chicago Alderman Lets Voters Decide Spending"
Fox Chicago News
April 10, 2010

"Rogers Park Residents Vote on Spending"
Loyola Phoenix News
April 20, 2010

Learn More About Participatory Budgeting

Alderman Joe Moore and the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee received invaluable assistance and guidance from the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization that supports participatory budgeting in North America.  For more information on participatory budgeting and the Participatory Budgeting Project visit:

49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Presentation (PowerPoint)

 icon PB49_Presentation_2013-14.ppt (19504 KB)

Artistic Murals Selected to Brighten Rogers Park Underpasse​s 

(Note:  For a slide show of the winning murals, CLICK HERE or scroll below)

The winners are:

Brenda Barnum - "Northern Exposure"
Ben Bauman - "Safari Funk"
Logan Bay - "Move On Up version 1"
Andy Bellomo & Jennifer Kernica - "Mayfly Mayhem"
Miguel A. Del Real - "Seeing Harmony in Everyday Life"
Mitch Egly & Ben Giska - Untitled
Mathew Hoffman - "You Are Beautiful"
Ben Janik - "The Public Space Project"
Rodrigo (Solo) Mireles - "Trois Dames D'Or"
Jeremy Pettis - "A Piece of Mind"
Keith Pollok - "Empty Hive"
Justus Roe - "Seiche"
Katherine Ross & Karen Zissis - "Seasons of Time"
Tony ( Passero) Sparrow - "Monster Zoo"
Thor - "Busy Town"
Shane Treacy - "Rogers Park Shuffle"
Aaron Wooten - "Chicago 1955"
Gwendolyn Zabicki & Ken Smith - "Greetings from Rogers Park"
Molly Zakrajsek - "Flowers in Motion"
Jeff Zimmermann - "The Long View"

The "Art=Rogers Park Underpass Murals Project" was one of the funding proposals that received voter approval in the Participatory Budgeting election last April in which Alderman Moore gave the 49th Ward residents the power to determine how it would spend the 49th Ward's capital budget allocation.

A few weeks ago, the Alderman put out a call to artists to submit proposed designs for 20 underpass murals and embankments.  The artists were required to either live in Chicago or have a studio located within Chicago.  Over 150 proposed mural designs were submitted for consideration and a blue-ribbon panel of respected public art experts selected by the PB49 Arts and Innovation Committee evaluated the mural submissions and made recommendations to the committee.

The panel consisted of:

  • Lynn Basa of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and well-known public artist;
  • Juan Angel Chavez of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a noted Chicago muralist;
  • Kathleen Paluch, co-director of Rogers Park's Greenleaf Art Center.

Each winning artist will receive a stipend of $5,400 to execute their murals and will be assigned an underpass wall on which to paint their mural.

The following underpass walls are slated to receive a mural:

CTA Underpasses

Chase (north and south walls)
Estes (north wall)
Greenview/Sherwin (all walls)
North Shore (north and south walls)
Rogers (north and south walls)

Union Pacific (Metra) Underpasses

Birchwood (north and south walls)
Estes (north and south walls)
Farwell (south wall)
Morse (north wall)
Rogers (south wall)
Touhy (north and south walls)

Most of the underpasses will be painted this summer and fall and the remainder next spring.

Congratulations to all of them and many thanks to the over 150 artists who submitted proposals to the competition.  It's a testament to our community that so many artists wished to have their work displayed in the 49th Ward.

Slide Show of the Winning Murals