Alderman Arena’s statement regarding the 2017 participatory budgeting cycle:

Due to some changes in the city’s timeline for submitting Aldermanic Menu projects, I have decided to take one year off from the Participatory Budgeting cycle in 2017. I came to this decision after great consideration and internal discussion with the 45th Ward Participatory Budgeting Committee, Participatory Budgeting Chicago, and my staff. I have determined that by skipping the 2017 cycle, my office can focus on improving the process, increasing our outreach efforts, and making important infrastructure improvements in 2017.

The discussions surrounding this decision began after the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) informed all aldermen that we are now required to submit our annual list of infrastructure improvements near the beginning of the year. In years past, these were due in the early summer. CDOT’s internal decision to change their deadline was made in an effort increase efficiency by having crews begin working on infrastructure menu items the same year they are submitted.

This change in the deadline means I will also need to adjust the Participatory Budgeting cycle. In previous years, the process would start in the fall and wrap up in May, with residents voting on various projects. For the 2018 Participatory Budgeting cycle, the process will start in early 2017, and residents will vote in the fall.

With the change in the cycle, it does mean that 2017’s menu money will not be put to a Participatory Budgeting vote. Instead, I plan on spending that money on projects that were approved by voters in the past, but came in at a higher cost than initially estimated. I also plan on focusing on residential streets throughout the ward as well as pedestrian safety issues.

In addition, my office and the Participatory Budgeting Committee are going to focus on our outreach efforts to increase involvement in the process and voter turnout. Participatory Budgeting provides a unique opportunity to determine how your tax dollars are spent and is most effective when residents become engaged. As such, we are always seeking and welcoming to new potential committee members. It is a great way to become more involved in your community and affect substantive change.

Those interested in becoming involved in the Participatory Budgeting process are encouraged to email my office or call 773-286-4545. Together, we can make the 45th Ward an even better place to live!