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'We Want To Take An Innovated Approach': Sacramento City Pilot Project Sets Aside $1M For Community To Spend

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — What would you do with a million dollars? That's the question people in south Sacramento were asked as part of a new city pilot project.

Neighbors got together for an economic experiment in Sacramento.

"It's really about bringing government closer to the people," said City Councilmember Mai Vang.

It's called participatory budgeting — giving back the power of the purse to the community.

"I'm an average everyday person and I think that's who you're supposed to ask," said Kai Boone who loves in the Meadowview neighborhood.

For the first time, Sacramento city leaders have set aside a pot of $1 million in taxpayer money for the community to spend.

"It's a very good idea," said Sacramento resident Larry Harris. "You should always include the people that are going to be affected."

"We want to take an innovated approach, go into the community, hear from them," Vang said.

So what are people's priorities for city spending? Boone has a long list.

"I'd like a child care center, a community garden, [to] have an exercise area," he said.

Others say vacant lots need to be cleaned up.

"Illegal dumping areas, I'm constantly calling," said Margarita Chavez who also lives in the Meadowview area.

And some say the streets need to be fixed.

"We've got potholes all over the area," Harris said. "I think the city needs to take a more proactive view on that."

Councilmember Vang is getting a lot of ideas.

"Folks have shared with me various things that they're interested in, from community gardens to doing more art in south Sacramento," Vang said.

All the ideas will be ranked by popularity and funding will begin in September. While the million dollars is just a fraction of the city's overall budget, city leaders say it could be raised in the future.

"If we can show and do well with this pilot program, I'm really hoping my colleagues will agree for us to up those dollars," Vang said.

People can submit ideas on the city's website or attend another community meeting on May 21.

"I know a million dollars is not a lot of money, but it's a start," Harris said.

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