Cambridge Seeks Your Ideas on How to Spend $600,000 of the Capital Budget

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  Cambridge, MA, July 24, 2015 — After a successful pilot process in 2014-2015, the City of Cambridge launched its second Participatory Budgeting initiative in June 2015 by recruiting a 24-member Steering Committee to oversee the process. Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.
This time, the City will set aside $600,000 of the FY17 Capital Budget for projects to improve the community. How would you spend $600,000 to improve Cambridge?
During the last PB cycle, six projects won $528,000 in funding:


1. 100 new trees and tree wells

2. 20 laptops for the Community Learning Center

3. Bilingual books for children learning English

4. Public toilet in Central Square

5. 8 bike repair stations

6. Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations
Community members are encouraged to submit project ideas from August 1-31, 2015 through an interactive online map, which will go live on the City’s PB website on August 1. Citizens can also email, call, mail, or hand deliver idea submissions to the City’s Budget Office at, (617) 349-4270, or 795 Massachusetts Avenue, c/o Budget Office, Cambridge, MA, 02139. Anyone can submit an idea.
To be eligible for funding, projects must meet the following criteria:

ü Are capital projects, which usually involve infrastructure improvements (as opposed to operating projects, which usually fund salaries and services)
– Infrastructure is usually physical, but not always. Many IT-related projects, such as developing an app or expanding free public Wi-Fi, are eligible.
– Most capital projects have some sort of associated operating cost. Projects that would require the City to hire additional staff are not eligible. 
ü Are one-time expenditures that cost $600,000 or less
ü Benefit the public
ü Are implemented by the City of Cambridge on City property (streets, sidewalks, parks, libraries, schools, youth centers, senior centers, municipal buildings, etc.)
– Projects on Cambridge Housing Authority, DCR, and MBTA property are not eligible
– PB funding cannot be used to make a grant to a nonprofit organization
After ideas are collected in August, volunteer Budget Delegates will work during September, October, and November to research, assess, and prioritize ideas and determine the final proposals that will appear on the ballot in December. If you are interested in volunteering as a Budget Delegate, please sign up on the City’s website or email   
The City hopes that PB will directly involve residents in the budgeting and city-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City’s capital plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents. Make sure to get YOUR ideas on the map!
For more information on participatory budgeting, including answers to frequently asked questions, please visit

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