CITY HALL — Ald. Joe Moore's participatory budgeting is going citywide.
The 49th Ward alderman from Rogers Park was the first to put his annual $1.3 million discretionary budget in the hands of community residents, allowing them to weigh in on capital projects they wanted done.
"My program has been incredibly successful," Moore said, and it's now in its fifth year.
Now the idea is going citywide with the proposed creation of a manager of participatory budgeting in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2014 city budget.
Moore said Wednesday he doesn't feel as if his good idea is being stolen.
"As a matter of fact, it's been a team effort on the part of the mayor and me to establish this office," he said.
Moore said three aldermen so far have followed his lead in community participatory budgeting on capital projects.
"I think one of the things that have given some of my colleagues pause is just the amount of time and effort it would take to do it well," he added. The new citywide manager's position, Moore said, would give aldermen the "support and information they need to make this successful in their communities."
Moore emphasized it will be entirely voluntary on the part of the aldermen, some of whom may want to continue to use their own discretion on the fund.
"My dream would be all 50 wards," he said. "But we're gonna take it a step at a time."
Likewise, an alderman may opt to just open a portion of the $1.3 million to community input, but he warned against making the amount too small.
"We've found that, in order to really justify the time that it takes to do it right and get people involved, it has to be real money," Moore said, suggesting at least $1 million, which has a magic ring to most residents.
"Ald. Moore’s participatory-budgeting process has proven to be a success and is now a national model for engaging citizens in the budgeting and capital-planning process," Emanuel said. "I am pleased that we can take his model and make it a permanent part of city government so that other aldermen who choose to implement this program have a resource at their disposal."
The salary for the position is expected be set during the budget process.
"I'm very excited that the mayor has provided us with the resources to take this to the next level," Moore said.