2024 People’s Budget Proposals Open!

Ballot box with "40th Ward People's Budget" written on the front

2024 People’s Budget season is almost here! From June until August, submit your proposals for the infrastructure improvement projects you want to see in the 40th Ward. Want to know more about what makes a good project proposal? See below:

What is the People’s 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.

Each year, 40th Ward residents ages 14 and up have the opportunity to vote on two things:

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

That’s why we call it the People’s Budget—because YOU get to decide how to spend YOUR tax dollars.


Project proposals are accepted from January to August. The deadline for project proposals is on August 31st. Once the deadline for proposals has passed, the Participatory Budget Committee reviews each proposal and pares them down to choose a final ballot. Then, the community votes on which project(s) we should fund.

  • June-August: Project proposal submission period
  • September: People’s Budget Committee proposal review
  • October: Final ballot is chosen
  • November: Voting begins
  • December: Voting ends
  • January: Results are announced!

What projects are eligible to be on the ballot?

To be considered for the People’s Budget ballot, a project must be located within the 40th Ward on city-owned property, it must count as permanent infrastructure, and it must be something we’re able to afford to implement within our Menu budget. Projects also tend to be new infrastructure, as opposed to repairs of existing infrastructure. 


Projects must be located within the 40th Ward and on public property, e.g.

  • City Parks
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Chicago Public Libraries
  • Streets
  • Public way (alleys, sidewalks)

Permanent Infrastructure

To be eligible for funding, the project must count as permanent infrastructure, which means it has to be a physical installation that will last for at least five years. Programs like rat abatement, tree trimming, or new park programming do not count as permanent infrastructure, nor do staffing expenses.

Project vs. Repair

To be eligible for the ballot, a proposal must be a community project instead of an individual repair. 

  • A repair is something that fixes existing infrastructure (e.g. a residential street resurfacing or alley reconstruction) and typically only impacts a specific address or block. 
  • A project tends to involve the installation of new infrastructure (e.g. workout equipment at the park, pedestrian refuge island, etc.) as opposed to a repair of existing infrastructure. It also usually impacts a larger portion of the community (e.g. replacement of a block of sidewalk on a major street, as opposed to fixing the sidewalk in front of one property).

While the community does vote on how much of our $1M we should spend on repairs vs. new projects, they do not vote on each individual repair. Instead, the 40th Ward office chooses which projects to fund based on a separate rubric. If you determine that your proposal is more of a repair than a project, repair requests can be submitted anytime through our Menu repair request form!


The Ward is granted $1.5M in infrastructure funds each year. Of those funds, we reserve $500K for repairs that come up throughout the year. The community votes on how much of the remaining $1M will be spent on repairs vs. special projects. Typically, the community votes to spend between 40-50% on special projects, which means that any given project would need to cost less than $500K.

Costs vary per project, but you can get an idea of how much common infrastructure improvements cost using the table below. 

Residential Street Resurfacing$54,450 per block
Alley Reconstruction$300K per block
Sidewalk Replacement$115K per block
Curb and Gutter Replacement$115K per block
Diagonal Parking$90K per block
Residential cul-de-sac$50K per project
Neighborhood Bike Greenway$75K per half-mile
Residential Traffic Circle$20K per project
Residential Bump-outs$16K per pair
Arterial Bump-outs$60K per corner
Pedestrian Refuge Island$75K per island
Protected Bike Lanes$250K per half-mile
Buffered Bike Lanes$60K per half-mile
Residential Street Lighting$280K per block
Traffic Signal (e.g. left turn arrow)$50-150K per signal
Table of infrastructure project costs

How do I submit a project proposal?

You can submit a project proposal online at 40thward.org/PB. The deadline for project proposals is August 31st.

Who decides what projects get to be on the ballot?

The 40th Ward staff first assesses each proposal to make sure it’s viable. Once we pare the list of proposals down to those that are viable, our People’s Budget Committee reviews each proposal and ranks it based on the criteria listed above, and chooses semi-finalists.

Once semi-finalists are chosen, 40th Ward staff will reach out to relevant City departments to price out each project. After we receive those estimates back, the People’s Budget Committee selects the final ballot, which usually consists of five project proposals.

If you’d like to be considered for the People’s Budget Committee, apply at 40thward.org/volunteer!

What makes a good People’s Budget project proposal?

In addition to eligibility and affordability, here are the qualities we look for in a project proposal:


  • We like to see projects serve a large portion of the community (e.g. public parks, public schools, or main streets), and/or invest in areas of the ward that might not have seen as much investment in the past.
  • Questions to ask: How many people will this serve? Will it serve only a certain portion of the community or will it benefit many different groups? Is this benefitting an area of the ward that hasn’t gotten as much investment?


  • Projects that benefit our natural environment are a priority for our office. Those benefits can be either direct or indirect: in other words, it might look like a project that centers sustainability, e.g. a rain garden, or introducing greenery to another type of project, e.g. a planted traffic circle.

Questions to ask: Does the project benefit our natural environment? If not, is there any way to introduce sustainability or green aspects to it?


  • We believe the best-designed projects are ones that incorporate the principles of universal design ––aka, that designing a project that accommodates a wide range of physical abilities makes it better for everyone. You might consider projects that benefit pedestrians like sidewalk replacement, or incorporate accessible features into another project, e.g. including an audible pedestrian signal into a proposal for a new traffic signal. 
  • Questions to ask: Does this project help make the ward a more accessible place for people with disabilities? Is there a way to incorporate aspects that make it more accessible?

Community Impact

  • Because People’s Budget projects tend to require a significant investment, we want to make sure that investment benefits as much of the community as possible. For example, we would be unlikely to choose a singular alley construction for the ballot (though we’ll consider it as a repair!), but would consider several blocks of sidewalk replacement, especially if it’s on a stretch that many people use.
  • We also consider safety as a big part of community impact: bumpouts might only be installed at one or two intersections, but it they can make a big difference to the safety of all the pedestrians who use those intersections.
  • Questions to ask: Will this project solve an issue facing our community? What benefits do you think this project has for the community, and are those benefits short term or long term?


We like to see a project that demonstrates creative thinking, whether that’s a unique idea, or a project that supports our office’s vision of bringing public art to more of the ward.

Questions to ask: Does this project add something new to the ward? Is there a way to incorporate more creative aspects into the project?


While we wish we could fund every great idea, we are limited by both budget and logistics––if a project is too expensive (e.g. more than $350K) or it involves a huge amount of logistical complexity, we might pass on it in favor of projects that we know we can accomplish.

Use your gut here! A roller coaster in a park: probably too complicated. A water feature in a park? Worth looking into. When in doubt, submit your idea! Our office can determine whether it is viable.

Questions to ask: Is this project achievable, or will it be too costly or complicated to implement in a timely manner?

Common types of projects:

  • Pedestrian safety: Curb extensions (bumpouts), traffic circles, or a pedestrian island at a major intersection
  • Bike infrastructure: New bike lanes, e.g. neighborhood greenways, bike corrals, bike repair stations, etc.
  • Public art: Murals or art installations at public spaces
  • Parks installations: Infrastructure additions like exercise equipment, field house upgrades, storage space, new water fountains, etc.
  • School upgrades: Infrastructure improvements like lighting upgrades or a community garden space
  • Traffic improvements: Traffic signals, including new left turn arrows, new stoplights, or audible pedestrian signals
  • Public way upgrades: Sidewalk or curb and gutter replacement
  • Lighting: Repainting or replacing light poles along a stretch of the neighborhood
  • Ward beautification: Tree planting, community garden installations, median landscaping, etc.

Past Ballot Winners

Need some more inspiration? Here are some examples of winning projects in the past five years:

  • Winnemac Ave pedestrian safety: funded the cost of bumpouts, speed humps, and other pedestrian safety upgrades on Winnemac Ave between Damen and Wolcott.
  • Budlong Woods Mural: funded the installation of a mural at the Budlong Woods library
  • Emmerson Park Workout Space: funded the installation of exercise equipment at Emmerson Park
  • Western Ave Pedestrianization: funded the sidewalk replacement on Western Ave
  • Traffic Signal at Foster and Damen: funded a new left turn signal at the intersection of Foster and Damen

We look forward to seeing your project ideas!

Yours in Service and Community,

Signature of Andre Vasquez