The ballots are cast, the votes are counted, and the people have spoken. Below are the detailed results of the 2017 Participatory Budgeting Election in the 49th Ward:
Over 2,900 residents of our community cast ballots in the “PB49” election. This represents a 36% increase over last year’s record-breaking turnout and constitutes one of the largest per capita voter turnouts of any participatory budgeting election in the nation!
The voters this year decided that 64% of the $1 million allocated for PB should be devoted to street and alley resurfacing, streetlights, and repairs to sidewalks, curbs, gutters and alley aprons. As a result, four blocks of streets and six alleys will be resurfaced and approximately $177,000 will be devoted to new streetlights and repairs to sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
For the remaining portion of the budget, the voters selected the following:
- One hundred trees planted on City parkways in Rogers Park;
- Installation of a “learning garden”at Gale School, which will be designed to be an innovative model of urban outdoor education;
- Upgrades to the streetlights on Clark Street, including repainting all light posts, installing energy efficient LED bulbs, and attaching ornamental piggy-back lighting to each light post on Clark; and
- New benches inside the heat lamp shelters at the Jarvis, Morse and Loyola Red Line stations.
Alderman Joe Moore’s Introduction to PB49
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.
Each alderman in Chicago receives slightly over $1.3 million a year to spend at their discretion on various capital improvements in their wards. This so-called “menu money” goes for neighborhood improvement projects, such as resurfacing streets and alleys; repairing sidewalks, curbs and gutters; installing new streetlights; and other infrastructure needs.
Aldermen also use their menu money to subsidize special infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding playgrounds and subsidizing the construction of new public buildings. So long as the funds are used for capital improvements, aldermen are accorded wide discretion on how to allocate their budget.
Eight years ago, I decided to adopt a different approach. Rather than me determining how to spend the money, I turned that power over to the residents of my ward. Beginning in 2009 and continuing every year since then, I allocate $1 million of my $1.3 million dollar budget to a democratic process known as Participatory Budgeting, or “PB49,” in which community residents decide by popular vote how to spend the Ward’s infrastructure budget.
The 49th Ward was the first political jurisdiction in the nation to adopt participatory budgeting as an approach to public spending, and it’s been so well-received that I pledged to make it a permanent fixture in the ward.
Word of our success has spread. This year, eight Chicago aldermen used participatory budgeting to decide how to spend their aldermanic menu money, and other cities in the U.S., including Boston, New York City, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Vallejo, California, are emulating the 49th Ward’s participatory budgeting model.