East Tacoma voters choose how to spend $1 million in ARPA funding

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(The Center Square) – Tacoma residents in the city’s 4th District have voted to fund $1 million in federal funds toward a grant funding program focused on creating community connections.

According to the city, 12,389 votes were tallied in the city’s participatory budgeting program dedicated to residents in District 4. The winning submission is a community-proposed grant program that will fund cultural events, out-of-school youth programming and community activities.

Program implementation is expected to begin in early 2024.

“This project makes a powerful statement about who we are,” Tacoma District 4 City Councilmember Catherine Ushka said in a statement.

The city intends to bring participatory budgeting to all five Tacoma City Council districts over the next three years.

Funding for the participatory budgeting program stems from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Earlier this year, the Tacoma City Council approved $2.5 million in federal funds to go toward participatory budget projects in Districts 4 and 2.

The winning proposal bested three other community projects: installing tennis court lighting and a covered basketball court in Lincoln Park; a short-term job training program to hire residents to plant trees and improve parks; and expanding community garden work that would go towards initiatives such as cultural food education and a community kitchen.

On the participatory budget ballot webpage, voters are given three prompts. The first is to validate that the voter lives, works, learns or plays in East Tacoma. The second is the list of proposals to vote for. The final prompt is asking the voter to willingly share any demographic information to help the city understand who is participating in the participatory budgeting program.

Notably, it is optional for a voter to give away their demographic information. No age requirements are listed for the vote, as well.

The Center Square recently reported on a participatory budgeting program in Seattle allowing the public to vote on how to distribute a total of $27.3 million in funding. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights’ participatory budgeting process will announce the winning proposals in mid-November.

Tacoma’s District 2 will now undergo its own participatory budgeting process.

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