Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of serving as a community representative on the city of Saint Paul’s CIB task force. The CIB task force is way for citizens to weigh in on the city’s Capital Improvement Budget. This budget is passed by the city council every two years and is used to fund improvement projects throughout the city such as adding lighting to a street or building playgrounds.
These task forces are chosen from representatives of the neighborhood district councils and work together to rank what projects should be funded in the upcoming Capital Improvement Budget. Projects can be submitted by city staff or residents of Saint Paul. The projects are divided into three categories, one for each task force: Community Facilities, Streets & Utilities, and Residential & Economic Development.
The process begins with an orientation in late February and then moves on to hearing presentations on all proposed projects starting in early March. I served on the Community Facilities task force meaning most of the projects we heard were park-related. The meetings are held on Monday evenings and last for approximately six weeks. During that time we heard about over forty nine projects located all over Saint Paul. During the final two meetings we met to discuss and rank the projects in order of importance. This was the most difficult part of the entire process as you have to ask yourself questions like what is more important, fixing contaminated soil in a playground or building a new fire station? Needless to say there is no easy answer.
Eventually after much discussion we agreed on our final rankings and sent them off to the City Council. During the next few months the Council will review our rankings and decide if anything needs to be changed. Once that is complete these rankings will be adopted into the official 2016-2017 Saint Paul Capital Improvement Budget. It is a rewarding process knowing your input is being heard by the city and I encourage anyone who wants to get engaged to try it. Here is a link for more information on joining a task force, and here is a link for more ways to get involved on city committees.