“Downtown Decides!”, the participatory budgeting program created by Council member Amir Farokhi with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) – is officially open for voting.
Atlanta residents who live, work, or visit Downtown can visit www.downtowndecides.com and take part. Participants are given a digital ballot featuring 33 submissions and have a budget of $1 million to select their favorite proposals. Polls are open through the end of May. The winners will then be declared, and dollars earmarked for construction projects to help improve the city’s infrastructure.
“I am excited to see the vote get underway,” Farokhi said. “My office and our partners have been hard at work on this for well over a year. Atlantans now get to directly decide how some of your tax dollars are spent. This is direct democracy and I hope it becomes a norm for our city.”
Last fall, Atlantans submitted 116 ideas and the Atlanta Department of Transportation analyzed the data and filtered ideas that were ineligible for reasons such as cost or location. The $1 million in funding comes from unspent Transportation Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (or T-SPLOST) dollars allotted to ADID in 2017. Committed to the guidelines of the financing source, all eligible projects are focused on transportation.
Farokhi was happy with the assortment of ideas that made the final cut.
“There’s something for everyone on the ballot,” he said. “People were creative and thoughtful with their submissions. However you interact with downtown and its transportation infrastructure, there’s going to be something on there that directly impacts you. I look forward to seeing folks make the same hard decisions that government has to in deciding which projects are most popular.”
Farokhi is particularly happy that the process is moving ahead as planned against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“From the day we launched in November, we had always said we’d have the vote in May. Certainly recent events made that a heavier lift, but we met our deadline. I believe it’s important that as a city government we show that on this and many other things, it’s business as usual. I hope too that this opportunity comes as a welcome distraction to many as we all navigate this challenging time together.”