Cleveland officials decide how to spend the cut of money taxpayers get from casino revenues. In the past decade, that has added up to about $117 million. Most of it is spent on general city services, but each of Cleveland’s 17 City Council members also get a portion of the money to spend on projects in their wards.

Last year, each council member had about $116,000 to spend, plus any money they had saved from previous years. Council members and neighborhood groups have complained that the process of getting the money to small businesses and nonprofits can be frustrating.

What would residents do with the money?

Cleveland Documenters interviewed more than 30 Cleveland residents across 13 wards to find out how they might spend the money.

Most–78%–had never heard of casino revenue funds. None had ever been asked about the funds before. Residents did have some guesses on how local elected officials might be spending the money, such as repairing streets and supporting small business. But others were skeptical and guessed that the money was spent on “pet projects” or for “personal gain.”

Documenters asked residents: If you got to pick how to spend $116,000 in your city ward or neighborhood, what would you spend it on?

I probably would spend it on the food desert that’s around the neighborhood and helping the homeless.”

Ebony Dillard, 44, Ward 7

I would want more equipment and a fitness center for seniors. The machines are mostly used by guys there. Upgrade Zelma George Recreation Center.”

Victoria Moore, 64, Ward 4

Tearing down vacant structures and just having a ward crew to keep our ward clean all the time.”

Mario Moore, 47, Ward 4

“I believe $116,000 is not a lot of money for the needs of our area. I think that money could be best spent on beautification projects such as field clean ups, getting away some of the overgrown debris where crime can be hidden.”

Clarissa Russell, 44, Ward 9

Cleveland Documenters who contributed to this assignment include: Angie Pohlman, Brandy Smith, Marvetta Rutherford, Dan McLaughlin, Preeya Shankar, Robyne Williams, Alfreda Williams, Mildred Seward, Angela Thomas, Adrienne Hall, Giorgiana Lascu and Kellie Morris.

Cleveland Documenters pays and trains people to cover public meetings where government officials discuss important issues and decide how to spend taxpayer money.