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Your Voice, Your Choice: Help Seattle spend $2 million

This month, you get a chance to vote on how the city spends part of its budget to improve its streets and parks. The Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets program has narrowed down a huge pool of ideas from your fellow Seattleites to about 10 potential projects in each of the seven City Council Districts. Depending on your votes, some of these could become a reality in 2018.

The projects each cost a maximum of $90,000 — so they’re mostly things like improving sidewalks, crosswalks, and intersections. Each district gets $285,000 to divvy up among its top vote-getters.

Seattle’s first go at “participatory budgeting” was in 2015 with Youth Voice, Youth Choice, a program for which people age 11 to 25 got to brainstorm ideas and vote on how to spend $700,000 of the city’s budget. The program expanded this year to include all Seattleites (and changed its name accordingly), and the process to get to the final docket of projects sounds like it was pretty intense.

From what we gathered, our transportation and parks departments did a pre-review of 900 submitted projects, residents narrowed the list down to 8-10 per district at neighborhood workshops, then the ideas went back to the city for a final hardcore look at project feasibility before the finalists got the stamp of approval for voting. Got all that?

If that sounds complicated, it kind of is. An Evergrey reader who submitted a project that made it to the final round of voting told us her idea was changed in that last feasibility review by the city and after talking to city officials she didn’t fully understand why.

When we asked the city for reasons the change might’ve happened, Lois Maag from the Department of Neighborhoods said it could be because the project’s cost was over-budget, the city already has a similar project in the works, or “it was simply not feasible for a myriad of reasons,” and volunteered to dive deeper if we wanted to know more. Phew. The good news: Your role as a voter isn’t complicated at all.

The projects are now in their final forms and it’s up to us Seattleites to show up (online or in-person) and get our votes in. Anyone who’s 11 or older can vote and the only requirements are living, working, going to school, receiving services, volunteering, or having a connection to Seattle.

Can you think of a small change in your neighborhood that could make life easier? Maybe it’s already being considered. Cast your vote here before the polls close on June 30.