Thursday, April 1, 2010

How would you spend tax dollars in your council district?

One district in Chicago is experimenting with 'participatory budgeting' and letting it's residents vote on projects to fund.  It will be interesting to see how they allocate funding, and whether the process leading up to the vote is contentious.
I think if I were to be given an opportunity to choose some projects that would enhance my particular council district I might discuss:
  • widening of Alumni Drive from Tates Creek to New Circle.
  • addition of a neighborhood pool at the park across the street from me (hey, I can dream)
  • lighting of the multi-use trail in the same park
  • neighborhood gardens
  • district specific Reforest the Bluegrass locations as well as a street tree program to enhance streetscapes with trees.
  • are there any bike lanes in the 5th district?
I'm sure there are a ton of worthy topics that I can't even fathom, which brings up the real drawback, as I see it, to this process:  what don't we, the citizens, know that must be taken care of that we might leave out?  I'm fully aware that government often spends money on many aspects of daily life that are essential that public is completely unaware of.  Dealing with items like sewer projects, flooding and public safety issues are critical to a great city, and are often overlooked by taxpayers.  Would participatory budgeting let important issues fall to the side in favor of populist ideas?

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