Participatory Budgeting (PB)
Learn More About PB
What is Menu Money
“Menu money” is a major driving component behind Participatory Budgeting in Chicago, and what makes it unique to the city. Every year, the City of Chicago allocates “menu money” to each of the 50 Aldermen to spend at their discretion on capital improvements within their ward. In the past, aldermen received $1.32 million a year. In 2021, the amount increased to $1.5 million. Aldermen that employ PB give residents decision-making power on how to spend a portion of that ward’s allocated menu money.
Menu money funds can only be spent on capital projects and not operating costs; for example, PB can fund a public bench or street repaving, but it cannot fund an after-school program or snacks. Most broadly, the money can be spent on infrastructure projects on public land. This budget is the main source of funding local infrastructure improvements like street repaving, pedestrian safety projects, lighting, traffic calming, and sidewalk repairs.