Evanstonians who want a say in how $3 million of federal pandemic aid will be spent will get that next month.
Anybody at least 14 years old who lives, works, studies or own a business in Evanston can vote in the participatory budgeting balloting that starts Sept. 1.
Devon Reid has been pushing the participatory budgeting concept since 2018, when he was city clerk.
At his 8th Ward meeting Tuesday night the council member introduced the city’s PB consultant, Celia Carlino, who said people can register to vote on the Participatory Budgeting Leadership Committee website, pbevanston.org.
Once registered, they should receive an email enabling them to vote online.
Carlino said residents initially suggested more than 1,300 ideas, and volunteers narrowed the field.
The 20 proposals listed on the website that made the cut range from $150,000 in small business grants to $2.5 million for a mobile dental van. Combined, they add up to nearly $11 million in spending, so many projects will go unfunded.
Carlino says people will be able to vote for up to seven projects — and the most popular ones will be funded — until the money runs out. Final decisions would be subject to a City Council vote.
That means people with a strong interest in one project are likely to “bullet vote” just for that one, to increase its chances of making the cut.
Carlino said at least two information fairs will be held in September to promote the initiative, where residents can vote in person.
There will also be opportunities to vote at the Levy Senior Center from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 10, and at the Fleetwood Jourdan Center from 5 p.m. Sept. 23.
Carlino said that, despite residents’ interest in the initiative, online registration is lagging. She urged residents to register immediately so that they can receive updates and voting information.
Another topic addressed at the meeting came from the office of State Senator Mike Simmons, who represents Illinois’ 7th District. A very small portion at the tip of Southeast Evanston, which overlaps the 8th Ward, is included in this district.
Simmons was instrumental in securing $1,000,000 in funding to replace lead pipes currently found in public and private properties throughout the state. Simmons’ Chief of Staff, Heather Saenger, who spoke at the meeting, said that residents should check to see if they are eligible for the lead pipe replacement program.
She acknowledged that the properties identified as eligible for funding was “a drop in the bucket,” given there were probably upwards of 10,000 Evanston properties which have lead pipes. Devon Reid said that only ten people from the 8th Ward had signed up for the program so far.
Those wishing additional information regarding lead pipe replacement should contact Simmons’ office at email@example.com, where their inquiry will be forwarded to the City of Evanston, which administers and does inspections related to lead pipe replacement. The city also has a website with information about lead pipe replacement at www.evanstonleadreplacement.org .