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Participatory Budgeting in the 49th Ward

A participatory budgeting project from Chicago, IL that is scheduled to run from November 2009 through April 2010.

From the about page:

About PB in the 49th Ward

In our participatory budgeting process in the 49th Ward we will be deciding how to spend the Ward’s ”menu money”– money received by each alderman for infrastructure improvements in their wards. Alderman Moore’s menu money budget for 2010 totals $1.3 million, and Moore has pledged to allow $1.2 million to be allocated directly by the community.

Last spring, Alderman Moore brought together a group of over 40 leaders of diverse civic, religious, and political organizations in the Ward to form a Steering Committee that would go on to lead and develop the rules for the process. Gianpaolo Baiocchi (Brown University) and Josh Lerner (New School for Social Research), directors of the organization The Participatory Budgeting Project, have provided guidance and assistance throughout this initiative.

The process itself began in November and December with a series of nine “neighborhood assemblies” held throughout the Ward– eight in different neighborhood areas and one ward-wide assembly for Spanish-speaking constituents. Open to all residents, the assemblies introduced the principles of participatory budgeting and asked residents to brainstorm ideas for infrastructure improvements in the Ward. For a complete list of all of the ideas suggested at the neighborhood assemblies, click here. At the end of the assemblies, interested participants volunteered to serve as ”community representatives.”

Beginning in December and continuing over a period of four months, committee representatives will meet in budgeting committees to develop concrete project proposals, which will eventually be voted on by the Ward at-large. Six budget committees have been formed:

* Parks & Environment
* Public Safety
* Traffic Safety
* Streets
* Transportation
* Art & Other Projects

Committees will consider all of the ideas suggested at the neighborhood assemblies when making decisions about which projects to propose. At a second round of neighborhood assemblies in March, committees will present lists of projects they want to propose and allow residents to suggest changes to the lists.

In April, all Ward residents age 16 and over, regardless of citizenship or voter registration statuses, will be invited to vote on the projects proposed by the committees. Each resident will be able to vote for up to eight projects. This process is binding, as the projects that receive the most votes will be funded up to $1.2 million.

Additional information

Tools used

A list of tools that were used during this project:


Additional information and materials about the project: