CHICAGO — Chicago is giving its residents a chance to help guide the city’s future.
In the 2022 budget, the city carved up a pie that totaled $16.7 billion. It was planned while Chicago and the world was still in the depths of the pandemic.
Today, it’s a different time — but the process must reset, re-mapping the city’s spending priorities. The 2023 budget is created by the mayor and city council — funding public safety, education, social services and many other areas.
For the third year in a row, the city is reaching out to its biggest stakeholders for advice.
“We don’t want there to be any barriers for people to participate,” said Director of the Office of New Americans Nubia Willman.
Willman said it’s a chance to have say in how the city spends your tax dollars. It’s not a presentation and more of a group discussion.
“We host these forums to be able to have people come, meet each other in a very specific way we do these forums, sit at tables,” Willman said.
For many, the city’s violence is front and center. Policing is a traditional lion’s share in any municipal budget, but interest in crime prevention this year is key.
“Community safety is paramount, one of our top priorities,” Willman said. “There are so many things that come into play when we talk about those programs, including youth, including mental health. That’s why it’s important for folks to come to the forums to hear about these services and programs and then tell us how they think this is going.”
It’s also balancing act with managing the political forces who have their own needs and desires. The bottom line, Willman says, is to think of the process as an investment.
“Historical investments in much needed areas such as violence prevention, youth services and environmental and sustainability programs as well,” Willman said.
UIC is helping compile the report once the three public sessions are done. It will be given to the mayor and city council when the budget is presented this fall.