There will be plenty of opportunities to learn about participatory budgeting in 2017. Supporters of the 2016 referendum petition are committed to making PB a reality in the 50th Ward, whether by working directly with the alderman, or succeeding in getting a referendum on the 2018 ballot, or ensuring that PB becomes a campaign issue.
The alderman recently supported City legislation transferring $1.3M in property tax revenue to a special fund that will provide legal support for undocumented residents fighting federal government deportation orders. Each ward receives slightly more ($1.32M) in menu money every year. It begs the question: How can the alderman agree to transfer $1.3M to help the undocumented and not agree to transfer $1M to the control of 50th Ward residents?
In 2017, POWR will sponsor programs explaining PB in depth. Residents will have an opportunity to meet with PB organizers and participants from other wards. We will also hold at least one screening of the documentary Count Me In, first aired on PBS last Fall, about the PB process and how it works in other Chicago wards, including our neighbor, the 49th.
2017 is the year to learn about PB and how it can help residents gain some control over a small portion of public monies. This is especially important in a time when residents see less and less in services while taxes and fees increase at all levels of government. It’s critical that we as citizens educate ourselves about the issues and become more involved in civic life.
Remember: The election cycle begins again in 2018–primaries in March, state elections, including governor, in November–with aldermanic and mayoral candidates campaigning throughout 2018 for the City’s elections in February 2019.