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Participatory Budgeting in Chicago

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The residents of the 49th Ward in Chicago were asked by Alderman Joe Moore to directly decide how to spend his $1.3 million capital budget for 2010. According to Alderman Ward, “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.”

Residents met over the last 6 months to gather ideas from their neighbors and research project and budget ideas. The project ideas ranged from public art to street resurfacing and from police cameras to bike paths. Once the ideas were gathered, the residents presented their proposals to their neighbors at a number of neighborhood “assemblies.”

An election was held on April 10, 2010 where all 49th Ward residents 16 years or older, regardless of citizenship or voter registration status, had the opportunity to vote for as many as eight projects, with one vote per project. Ballots were cast by 1,652 ward residents. The projects that received the most votes, up to a total of $1.3 million dollars, will be funded. Click here for a list of the winning projects. Click here to view a video on the 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting Process.

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