In 2009, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore launched the first PB process in the US, based on the model developed in Brazil. In 2012-13, four Aldermen are undertaking a joint PB process: Aldermen Arena (45th ward), Cappleman (46th ward), Hairston (5th ward), and Moore (49th ward). They are inviting residents to directly decide how to spend over $4 million dollars – at least $1 million per ward.
Residents will decide how to spend part of their ward’s “menu money,” the $1.3 million that each Alderman receives annually to spend as they desire. Menu money can only be used for capital repairs – physical infrastructure projects that benefit the public. Leadership Committees in each ward and a Steering Committee of ward representatives and city-wide organizations are working with the Aldermen to carry out the PB process. What is “menu money”? Every year, each of Chicago's 50 wards receive $1.32 million to address their own specific local infrastructure needs through the Aldermanic Menu Program. The "Aldermanic Menu" funds that are subject to the Participatory Budgeting process can be spent on any project that acquires, develops, maintains or improves a publicly owned capital asset, often called "infrastructure". Projects chosen by the aldermen include often include (but are not limited to) the repair and upgrade of streets, alleys, sidewalks, traffic signals, street lights, parks and playgrounds. The "Aldermanic Menu" funds cannot be used to subsidize personnel costs, services, programs and other operational costs, nor can they be used to improve privately owned capital assets.
Goals: What is this for? We hope to accomplish three main goals in participating PBC wards: 1. Equity We aim for our process to be fair and just and to lead to a more equitable distribution of public dollars in the city of Chicago.
2. Inclusion We aim to include the entire community - especially those who are often excluded from the political process, who face obstacles to participating, or who may feel disillusioned with politics. By making every effort to actively engage these communities and reduce obstacles to participation, we hope to prevent the ‘usual suspects’ or reduce the influence of groups with more resources from dominating the decision-making process, and to generate spending decisions that are fairer and better reflect the entire community’s needs. 3. Community Building We aim to strengthen our communities and the individuals within them through outreach and education. By building community to make budget decisions and to shape the budget process, we hope to develop new leaders and inspire people to work together to improve the community.
We ask everyone involved to work with us to achieve these goals.