ROCKLAND — Rockland is asking its citizens to propose ideas and then vote on how to spend $30,000 this summer.

Rockland received $756,737 from federal municipal American Rescue Plan Act funds, and in December 2021 the City Council voted to set aside $30,000 of those funds to use in projects proposed and approved by citizens. The Council also voted Dec. 13 on how to spend the remainder of the funds which included more than $500,000 for stormwater management projects, and $67,000 for employee retention bonuses. Another $38,000 will be used for enhanced online services for the public; $19,000 for a citizen alert service; $16,000 for washer/dryer equipment for the fire department; and $13,000 for equipment to improve the broadcast of hybrid meetings.

Project funds will be awarded in the amounts of up to one $10,000 grant and four $5,000 grants.

“No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, odds are good that you feel like your voice isn’t being heard,” said Aaron Britt, a committee member via a news release issued Thursday, July 21. “To me, participatory budgeting is all about declaring what you care about and engaging with the city to make it happen.”

The public proposal phase of the Participatory Budgeting process is beginning now. Proposals may be submitted by Rockland residents, or by an individual on behalf of nonprofit organizations which serve Rockland, from July 20 through Aug. 15. ARPA-eligible proposals move forward to public voting, which will take place from Sept. 15 through Sept. 22.

“We’ll ask for name and address on both digital and print voting forms to ensure that voters are Rockland residents and that they’ve not voted more than they’re allowed to,” Britt said.

Winning proposals will be announced at the October Rockland City Council meeting.

“Youth in Rockland have a unique perspective, so I’m delighted that the committee chose to open participation to residents age 12 and up. Through Participatory Budgeting, our kids and teens can directly financially impact what happens in their community in a way that isn’t often possible,” Rockland City Councilor Sarah Austin said in a news release issued by the budget group.

Proposed projects should be able to be carried out by the city or managed by a nonprofit agency serving Rockland. Full details of requirements are available at RocklandMaine.gov/rebound-faq/.

The committee strongly encourages proposals that would benefit populations most impacted by COVID, including Rockland’s seniors, youth, recovery communities, and front line workers. According to committee member Susan Folk, “With the current state of politics in this country, it is a very hopeful, positive, and empowering way to not only get involved, but to ensure vulnerable populations, and those impacted by the pandemic are represented and included in decision making.”

Proposals should be submitted via www.rocklandmaine.gov/rebound.

For residents without online access, a paper proposal form may be picked up at the Rockland Public Library or Rockland City Hall.

The volunteer Participatory Budgeting Committee developed the parameters for the proposals and voting.