People’s Budget 2023-2024: Voting is Open!

Ballot box against a teal background with the words "Help us how to decide how to spend $1 million"

What is a Participatory Budget?

Each year, the 40th Ward is allotted $1.5 million of the City’s budget to be used for a “menu” of infrastructure maintenance projects and improvements. We reserve $500K of those funds to use for emergency repairs that may arise throughout the year. The remaining $1 million is allocated through our participatory budget process. That’s why we call it the People’s Budget—because YOU get to decide how to spend YOUR tax dollars.

40th Ward residents can vote on:

  • The percentage of our $1 million Menu budget that will go to repairs (e.g. street resurfacing and fixing sidewalks) versus special projects (e.g. bike lanes, murals, park installations, and pedestrian safety improvements). 
  • Which special project(s) we should fund for 2024. Neighbors will use rank choice voting to rank each project from most to least favorable.

Menu money must be spent on permanent infrastructure that will last for at least five years (non-infrastructure expenses like staffing, rat abatement, and tree-trimming are not eligible for Menu). Menu money can be spent on on two types of infrastructure:

  • Menu Repairs are projects that repair existing infrastructure, like street and alley resurfacing, and repairs to sidewalks, alley aprons, and curb and gutter.
  • Special Projects are installations of new infrastructure on city-owned properties, e.g. new bike lanes, a mural at a local library, or a new park installation.

Menu repair requests are accepted throughout the year. These requests are NOT voted on by the community, but are instead determined by 40th Ward staff based on urgency of the repair and location, so we can ensure that Menu funds are spread out equitably throughout the Ward.

Special project proposals are accepted from January to September each year, after which they are pared down by the Participatory Budget Committee, and then voted on by the community during the Participatory Budget process. If you want to see what projects we funded in previous years, check out our Participatory Budget page.

What Projects Are on the Ballot?

The final Participatory Budget ballot is chosen by our Participatory Budget Committee, which is made up of neighbors who applied . This year’s PB Committee was composed of 5 community members who, along with 40th Ward staff, assessed ideas submitted by neighbors.

The PB Committee reviewed every single proposal, and assessed each of them to determine their viability based on factors like cost, location (whether it is in the 40th Ward and located on city-owned property), and Menu-eligibility (e.g. whether it counts as permanent infrastructure).

After we determined which project proposals were viable, the 40th Ward staff reaches out to the appropriate departments to determine whether the project was feasible, and what the estimated costs would be. Once we received that information, we then pared the proposals down to our final ballot, by reviewing them on such factors as:

  1. Sustainability: Does the project benefit our natural environment either directly or indirectly?
  2. Equity: How many people will this serve? Will it serve only a certain portion of the community or will it benefit many different groups?
  3. Community Value: What benefits do you think this project has for the community, and are those benefits short term or long term? Will this project solve an issue facing our community?
  4. Feasibility: Is this project achievable? If the proposal sounds like a long term project, would it be worth the time it takes to implement?

Here are the final projects we chose:

Warren Park Improvements

This project would fund the installation of a water fountain (as requested by neighbors and the Park Advisory Council) at Warren Park by the courts (6601 N. Western Ave), as well as beautifying and repaving the section of Columbia and Damen at the East end of the park.

These funds would expand on $1.5 million park improvements earmarked for next year to improve the quality of life for both park visitors, and address concerns that we’ve heard from neighbors in this area that is new to the 40th Ward.

West Ridge Nature Park Kiosk

This project would fund the installation of a welcome kiosk at the entrance of West Ridge Nature Park (5801 N. Western Ave), as well as additional storage facilities to facilitate community-building and educational activities in the park.

These funds would support the park’s nature education programming by allowing the additional storage capacity, and increase public awareness and participation for the park’s important work.

Emmerson Park Storage Shed

This project would fund the installation of a storage shed in Emmerson Park (1820 W. Granville Ave) to substantially increase the storage capacity of the current fieldhouse.

These funds would address long-standing neighbor concerns about the fieldhouse, while the additional storage would allow for expanded programming for youth at Emmerson Park.

Winnemac Avenue Pedestrian Safety Improvements

This project would install necessary pedestrian safety infrastructure on Winnemac Avenue east of Damen Ave, including curb bumpouts at the intersections of Wolcott and Winchester, and additional safety measures as determined by the traffic study currently underway for the Winnemac and Damen intersection.

The intersection of Winnemac and Damen has been a longstanding pedestrian safety concern for neighbors in the area. This infrastructure would make this key intersection at the entrance to Winnemac Park safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

How Do I Vote?

All 40th Ward residents ages 14 and up are eligible to vote! To cast your vote, fill out and submit our 2024 Participatory Budget Ballot.

You can also vote in person at any of our physical ballot boxes:

  • Side Practice Coffee: 5139 N Damen Ave
  • Budlong Woods Library: 5630 N. Lincoln Ave
  • Northtown Library: 6800 N. Western Ave
  • Warren Park Fieldhouse: 6601 N Western Ave
  • Green Briar Park Fieldhouse: 2650 W. Peterson Ave
  • River Park Fieldhouse: 5100 N. Francisco Ave
  • 40th Ward Office: 5620 N. Western Ave.

High school students who are residents of the 40th Ward can vote in-person at Mather High School, Amundsen High School, Nicholas Senn High School, and Northside College Prep. We will also have ballot boxes located at the following Senior Centers: Peterson Plaza, Schneider Apartments, G&A Senior Residence, and Daniel Hudson Burnham Apartments.

Please make sure to cast your vote by December 31st, 2023! We’ll tally the votes and announce the results in early January.