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$150,000 question posed to Masten District residents

A weeklong experiment ended Saturday afternoon, when the final votes were cast on a $150,000 question.

How do you want to spend $150,000 in the Masten community? Masten residents were asked.

Here are 21 ideas, the voters were told. Pick your six favorites.

The paper ballot was Buffalo’s first venture into Participatory Budgeting, a nationwide movement that gives residents a direct say on how a slice of their tax dollars are spent.

In Buffalo’s case, city government provided $150,000 in Participatory Budgeting money.

Budget delegates and a steering committee, working with support from the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, selected the Masten District for Buffalo’s first Participatory Budgeting vote. They also helped pick the projects on the ballot from 600 ideas developed at community brainstorming sessions.

The voting on the 21 topics started last Monday and continued through Saturday, with ballots available at various locations, including community centers, a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a couple of Metro Rail stations.

On Friday, steering committee member Sean Mulligan and volunteer Tsi Tsi Paradzai were at the Amherst Metro Rail Station, identifying Masten residents and asking if they were interested in voting.

Taneepha Stokes of Main Street wanted to vote. She went through the 21 ballot items and picked her top six: East Ferry Bus Shelter, East Delavan Avenue garbage cages, lighting on East and North Parade avenues, a tool library, a healthy cooking campaign and a farmers market.

Lenaire Herring also voted. The 1984 City Honors graduate said he voted for any ideas that provided bus shelters or library books. “I support education,” he said.

With a goal of 100 ballots a day, as many as 600 people were expected to vote in the paper election.

The voting results will be announced Thursday at what is being called a “PB Party” at the Delavan Grider Community Center. The top vote getters up to $150,000 will be enacted.

“There may be a lot with lesser amounts, or a few very expensive amounts” Mulligan said.