I am thrilled to report an important step in our goal of making participatory budgeting a part of the City’s budgeting process. As reported in DNAinfo, Mayor Emanuel announced today that participatory budgeting will be included in his 2014 budget proposal, with the creation of a new position, “Manager of Participatory Budgeting,” in the City’s Office of Budget and Management.
The new position would be focused on providing technical support to any alderman who wishes to utilize participatory budgeting in determining how to spend his or her local “menu fund,” the $1.3 million discretionary fund that each alderman receives for infrastructure improvements in their ward.
It builds upon the work we pioneered in the 49th Ward in which the people decide by popular how to allocate the money. With the establishment of this position, participatory budgeting for the first time becomes a part of the City of Chicago’s governmental structure so that every alderman can access this creative budgetary tool.
As Mayor Emanuel stated, “Alderman Moore’s participatory budgeting process has proven to be a success and is now a national model for engaging citizens in the budgeting and capital planning process. I am pleased that we can take his model and make it a permanent part of city government so that other aldermen who choose to implement this program have a resource at their disposal.”
I am pleased and proud Mayor Emanuel has formed the position of Manager of Participatory Budgeting. This move will further the hard work of the residents of the 49th Ward and communities across Chicago. Participatory budgeting allows residents the opportunity to be more than observers of their local government; they become active participants in governing.
Empowering people to make real decisions openly and transparently is the first step toward strong communities and effective local governance. I commend the Mayor for undertaking this important step in democratic decision-making.
This newly created position in the Office of Budget and Management will work in conjunction with all aldermen who wish to implement participatory budgeting with the residents of their respective wards. Three other aldermen have implemented paticipatory budgeting in their communities, and this effort will facilitate that.
Others have expressed a strong interest in the process, but have expressed reservations about the time and energy involved in running the process. Hopefully, this new position will give them the added resources they need to take the next step.
Participatory budgeting facilitates management of public funds through the engagement of residents in their communities. It is a democratic process in which community members have the direct ability to decide how to spend part of a government budget, through a series of meetings and ultimately a final binding vote.
We just completed the first round of participatory budgeting for the 2014 ward infrastructure budget. Hundreds of 49th Ward residents attended Neighborhood Assemblies held across the ward and over 100 residents of all races and economic backgrounds volunteered to be “Community Representatives,” who will spend the next four months developing project proposals that will be submitted for a vote of the entire community next spring.
For more information on the 49th Ward’s participatory budgeting process, visit: