Added Oct 21 2017
Last January, I responded to a request from the Alderman's office for volunteers to work on this year's capital improvement plan. This process is called Participatory Budgeting (PB). In my first meeting, some 20+ residents attended. Following orientation, we were charged with reaching out to the community for input on the capital needs of the Ward.
The PB volunteers organized the input into categories. Once organized, the community input tended to fall into four categories. To fully consider each category, the PB volunteers divided into 4 committees, one for each category. The task was to study each recommendation and vet them for appropriateness given City capital improvement guidelines and the cost of each recommendation. Determining cost was fairly easy as the City's capital funds can only be committed to approved vendors by the City and at the City agreed upon cost.
I served on the Beautification Committee. Our Committee had 37 recommended items to consider. By the September 15th deadline, we narrowed the list to a final four recommendations. I am rather pleased with the work our small Committee did. The final four recommendations were ours and ours alone.
As volunteers, if residents don't vote, our work was in vain. Thus, I encourage you to vote. The first vote you will cast is one determining the percent of the one million capital dollars to be spent on Streets. If you do not like any of the PB's sixteen recommendations you are free to vote for 100% of the budget to be devoted to Streets. Similarly, you are then asked to vote for up to six improvement projects. If you can't support more than a few of the projects, vote for a higher percent to be allocated to Streets and Alleys.
Independent of your political preferences, consider volunteering for next year's PB process. I enjoyed meeting with fellow Ward residents and found the experience illuminating in terms of community needs and how the City works.