On Saturday, May 7, 2016 and the week leading up to it, 279 people voted in our participatory budgeting process, deciding on what projects would be funded through the Neighborhood Capital Infrastructure Program, also known as aldermanic menu money. Voting ended at 1:30 pm on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Voters decided that 50.9% the $1 million should go toward street resurfacing throughout the ward. That leaves $491,000 for projects selected by voters.

Each voter selected up to four projects. The results are:

– Trees throughout the 45th Ward : 169 votes. Of those, 38 voted for 150 trees ($81,000), 33 voted for 300 trees ($162,000), and 57 voted for 450 trees ($243,000);
– Curbs and sidewalks throughout the ward ($200,000): 126 votes;
– Viaduct lighting on Milwaukee under the UP Northwest Line ($30,000): 104 votes;
– 14 decorative trash cans in various locations ($32,000): 103 votes;
– Crosswalks across Milwaukee at Wilson, Windsor, and Leland ($80,000): 86 votes;
-Austin Neighborhood Greenway with bike lanes ($60,000): 69 votes;
– Fencing and lighting near the Gladstone Park Metra ($70,000): 69 votes;
– Sidewalks and curbs around Jefferson Memorial Park ($230,000): 58 votes;
– Repaving, and adding a sidewalk and lighting to the 4800-block of Avondale ($335,000) 50 votes;
– New ornamental street lights on the 5200-block of Lawrence ($390,000): 48 votes;
– Pedestrian refuge island at Lavergne across Lawrence ($60,000): 44 votes; and
– Pedestrian bump outs near Hitch Elementary School ($150,000): 34 votes.

The top 4 projects will be funded, in addition to the street allocation approved by voters.

While I am disappointed that more did not make it out to vote, my staff and I will be discussing in the coming weeks and months what we can do to make voting easier for you in this process. In the end, participatory budgeting works when people participate, and we’ll do our best to make that easier and more meaningful for everyone.

I do want to thank those of you who participated in meeting and coming out to vote, as well as the UIC Great Cities Institute for their technical assistance.

I also want to give a special thanks to the dedicated group of volunteers who sorted through dozens of project suggestions, turning them into ballot proposals.

Keep an eye on this space for details on our neighborhood assemblies in the fall, where we will start taking ideas for the 2017 PB45 budget.

To see what projects have won in previous years, visit our 45th Ward Participatory Budgeting website.

 What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. PB gives ordinary people real decision-making power over real money. The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world.

Since 2012, my office has given one million of its discretionary capital funds (“menu money”) to the community to decide how to spend through a participatory budgeting (PB) process.
It works like this:
• PB begins in the Fall with ward residents and stakeholders proposing spending ideas at neighborhood assemblies.
• Next volunteer community representatives take those ideas and develop them into project proposals.
• Finally, residents 14 years of age or older vote on projects, and the projects that receive the most votes are submitted by Alderman Arena for funding to the City of Chicago for implementation.

PB in the 45th Ward is part of the Participatory Budgeting Chicago (PB Chicago) initiative. For more information about PB or PB Chicago please visit