On October 3, 2022 Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered her $16.4 billion budget for the City of Chicago to City Council. In July, the City conducted a community engagement process and partnered with UIC’s Neighborhoods Initiative (UICNI) at the Great Cities Institute to design and engagement activities around the City’s 2023 budget. The “2023 Chicago Budget Community Engagement Report” documents the 2023 Budget Engagement process and provides key results from the engagement activities.
2023 budget engagement activities were built upon community-identified investment needs derived from the 2022 budget engagement process and findings that the City of Chicago refers to as “Responsive Initiatives.” To create meaningful engagement, the 2023 budget engagement process focused on establishing and reinforcing a feedback loop between City leaders and residents that:
- Provided residents with progress updates on the implementation of the City’s 2022 Responsive Initiatives and related programs and services.
- Created space for dialogue and discussions between department leaders and residents to share information and priorities, and to ask and answer any questions.
- Gathered feedback and input from residents on their priorities for programs and services, their definitions of success and progress for programs and services, and other comments and suggestions.
Data was collected across all engagement activities, from conversations with City leaders and from tabletop notes during roundtable discussions, written comment cards, surveys, filled-out forms about Responsive Initiatives, and verbal public comment from community members. The UIC team analyzed the data to report findings as reflected by participant responses to the survey, filled-out forms about Responsive Initiatives, written comment cards, and transcribed public comments are provided in the appendix.
This report includes engagement findings as related to the entire budget process, as well as across four budget topic areas: Affordable Housing and Services to People At Risk of or Experiencing Homelessness, Community Safety and Youth, Public Health and Services and Mental Health, and Neighborhood/Community Development and Arts and Culture. In terms of overall feedback, participants throughout the community engagement process and across all City programs and services raised the issue of needing:
- Better communication and marketing of existing programs and services to help make more residents aware of what is available and to connect residents to the services they need.
- Improved access, specifically language access and access for those with disabilities across all digital and in-person programs and services so that all City programs and services can be truly available to all residents.
- Increased transparency on decision-making processes, explanations about program and service delivery (e.g., why a program has a backlog, why implementation is delayed), and publicly shared progress on the performance of programs and services.
For topic area–specific feedback, participants were asked to prioritize programs and services that they thought were most important to their community. Participant responses in areas of success and progress corresponded generally to three themes:
- Investments, participant feedback involved statements and ideas on how to expand, improve, and/or enhance programs or services.
- Specific changes that represent success/progress (performance metrics), participant feedback involved ideas about specific changes or impacts that demonstrated success or progress.
- Policy recommendations, participant recommendations include requests for implementation of a specific policy or a change to existing policy.
The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) used participant feedback and the analysis of participant feedback provided in the 2023 Chicago Budget Community Engagement Report to create the 2023 Responsive Initiatives as part of the budget decision making process. The Responsive Initiatives are tied to specific departments and programs and services proposed for funding. As mentioned above, as part of the engagement activities participants identified performance metrics (specific changes that represent success or progress) against which the City’s progress and performance on the 2023 Responsive Initiatives can be measured. OBM has selected 16 of these performance metrics that are measurable and align well with one or several specific 2023 Responsive Initiatives to track progress. The City released the 2023 Budget Engagement Responsive Initiatives Report that includes both the 2023 Responsive Initiatives and corresponding engagement performance metrics on the 2023 Budget Engagement microsite.