Voters now have the chance to say yea or nay on Issue 38, or the People’s Budget. If passed, Issue 38 would add a new chapter to Cleveland’s charter that creates a process for residents to make more direct spending decisions. Below are some answers to questions about how much money would be spent if voters approve Issue 38 and how it might affect the city’s budget. Read the full text of the proposed charter amendment.

How much money would be dedicated to the People’s Budget Fund each year?

A portion of the city’s annual budget would be set aside. The amount would be phased in until it reaches an amount equal to 2% of the city’s General Fund, which is used to pay for basic city services. In 2022, that would have been a little over $14 million. 

  • Year 1: $350,000 to cover administrative costs and begin implementing the People’s Budget process.
  • Year 2: 1% 
  • Year 3: 1.5% 
  • Year 4: 2% 

How would the money be divided?

People’s Budget funding would be split up by neighborhoods or clusters of neighborhoods that make up planning areas for the city. Residents would vote on both citywide projects and projects that are specific to their neighborhood.

The charter amendment says the money would be divided  “in an equitable way using poverty data and information about historical and present-day social inequities.” This is different from other funds, such as casino revenue money, which are divided equally among the city’s 17 wards. With the People’s Budget, residents from every neighborhood would have the chance to vote for projects specific to where they live.

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What kind of projects could the People’s Budget pay for?

That would mostly be up to residents, but their money could be put toward existing programs or new ones. It could be used for capital expenses, such as improvements to parks, buildings or other public spaces. It could also be used for neighborhood-level programs to tackle residents’ concerns around safety, health or education.

The city would decide what amount of the money can be dedicated to each purpose. Neither category will be more than 60% of the total amount of funding. Projects would also be divided into two types: city-wide and neighborhood-specific.  

Where would the money come from?

Money for the People’s Budget could come from the city’s General Fund or from other sources, such as the city’s Capital Budget. The charter amendment does not name a source for the money.  City services are supported from the General Fund, including police, fire and EMS, recreation centers and garbage pick up. The Capital Budget is used for bigger projects or purchases with a long-term use or benefit, such as a bike path, a park or safety lighting. That money is typically generated by selling bonds for specific needs. 

Could services be cut to set aside money for the People’s Budget?

It’s possible. The city’s budget changes each year based on the money generated by taxes on income, property and sales. Cleveland is required to have a balanced budget. It’s up to the city administration and council members to set the budget and chose what to cut. 

Would the money in the People’s Budget for that year all have to be spent in the same year?

Money not used in one calendar year would stay in the budget and could be used in other years. Each project would be put in place within 18 months. The city would have to report to the committee every six months on the progress of each project. 

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