Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christiansburg Mayor Interviewed as Priority Based Budgeting Initiative Gets Underway

CHRISTIANSBURG, VA -- Christiansburg town leaders vote to bring in budgeting help. The town will be paying an estimated $22,000 to the Center for Prioritized Budgeting.

"They will help us better prioritize our budget, deciding what our money should be spent on," said Barry Helms, interim Town Manager.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christiansburg, VA Embarks on Priority Based Budgeting: "This gives some rhyme and reason to trying to avoid the situation we've had in past years"

Christiansburg Town Council votes to buy budget help - Roanoke.com
By Lerone Graham
The Roanoke Times

CHRISTIANSBURG -- Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to contract with a not-for-profit organization to help with the budget process.

"We have to find a new way to do our budget. The way we've been doing it is not going to work," said Finance Director Val Tweedie.

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting consults with governing bodies to assess departments, goals and needs in reference to spending, while helping establish a budget process that works best for the municipality.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Davenport Institute - Leading Citizen Engagement Organization - Highlights Monterey and Fairfield Initiatives

Since it's founding as a multi-partisan and non-profit organization in 2005, The Davenport Institute (formerly Common Sense California) has worked to engage the citizens of California in the policy decisions that affect the everyday lives of Californians. It is their firm belief that, in today's world of easy access to information, and easy connectivity to others, California's municipal and education leaders are seeking ways to involve the residents of their communities in the important issues they confront. Done legitimately, this new kind of leadership produces better, more creative policy solutions and better, more engaged citizens committed to the hard work of self-governance.

In their latest newsletter, the Priority Based Budgeting efforts in the City of Fairfield and the City of Monterey are highlighted to the extent that they are helping to accomplish what the Davenport Institute is also aiming to achieve. Tremendous recognition for Fairfield and Monterey.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

City Manager Reflects on City of Fairfield's Priority Based Budgeting Initiative

City of Fairfield, CA - News Details
City Manager discusses the results of Priority Based Budgeting

At the beginning of the year, the City Council established one goal -- fix the budget. The purpose of this article is to convey the results of the City's Priority Based Budgeting process, which is a crucial milestone in achieving this goal. The results provide a valuable tool to assist the City in developing solutions to address its Fiscal Year 2011/12 General Fund deficit.

The purposes of this process were to obtain a thorough evaluation of the organization's programs and services, to engage the public in a meaningful discussion of our budget challenges, and to understand the community's priorities. On all accounts, the process was successful.

View the City's Summary Memo on their project website:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Opening Night for Monterey Citizen Forums to Engage Community in Priority Based Budgeting Process

Monterey uses play money to help with budget issues
City asks residents for value ranking

The city of Monterey is inviting residents and taxpayers to use $500 of play money to help with the city's next budget. The city is facing an estimated $5 million budget gap when it starts putting together its 2011-12 budget, the latest in a string of spending squeezes.

As a result, the city is using a different approach to put together its next budget, a technique called "priority-based budgeting" that is being used by a growing number of public agencies around the country.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can Priority Based Budgeting Reveal the Common Ground Among Our Elected Officials?

Grand Island mayoral candidates discuss budget issues News 5: Coverage You Can Count On Local News

The Mayoral race in Grand Island pits two candidates against each other, each opposed to the other on the issue of taxes. Yet, as the article captures below, they both agree on one point: "Prioritization is the key."

This begs the question - can Priority Based Budgeting be a unifying common ground for our elected officials? Can the focus on Prioritization usurp the discussion of politics as usual. It seems Prioritization has the potential to be a unifying conversation, even in these times when budget discussions have been so divisive. We'd love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this topic!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oakland Tribune: Priority-based budgeting means asking residents what they want - Inside Bay Area

Barnidge: Priority-based budgeting means asking residents what they want - Inside Bay Area
NOT EVERY government officials conference is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Sometimes they put down their umbrella drinks long enough to address significant matters. So it was earlier this week in San Jose, where the International City/County Management Association held its 96th annual conference, with every eyeball in the crowd searching for ways to balance a shrinking budget.

The presentation focused on priority-based budgeting, which translates roughly to this: Which programs are most important to residents and which can be whacked? That may sound numbingly simple, but it represents a departure from traditional thinking. "Across-the-board budget cuts preserve mediocrity in all programs," said Jon Johnson, senior manager for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting. "We want to find the top programs, those that help us achieve the results we seek." He said San Jose once had nearly 600 city-funded programs, obviously not all of them essential. The challenge was identifying which were most valued. The solution -- imagine this! -- was to ask the people.

Said Johnson: "It's important to ask not whether police are more important than libraries but what programs are of the highest interest to citizens." (That police-library thing sounds vaguely familiar.)

Cities need to look within for help, too. Volunteers are an important resource. "Part of the new paradigm is not treating citizens as our customers but as our partners," said budgeting expert Chris Fabian

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PBB Guides Funding Decisions as City of Boulder Recommends 2011 Budget


From the City Manager's Letter: "PBB has introduced a mechanism to determine if city programs are accomplishing city goals, are appropriately provided by local government, and if programs could be more efficiently provided by developing new partnerships with community organizations."

From Budget Document: "In this first year of PBB, the process was used as a guide in making funding decisions in the City Manager's 2011 Recommended Budget. It is one of several tools that can inform staff and council in strategically targeting funding reallocations in a number of ways including:
  • improved efficiencies in any of the four quartiles,
  • reallocation of funding based on the changing needs of the community, and
  • model program budget impacts based on city revenues.
PBB will continue to evolve each year, and it is anticipated that program inventories, results and definitions may be adjusted to ensure their alignment with community needs and values.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

City of Monterey Hosts Priority-based Budget Public Meeting #1

From Chris Fabian: Many of you have asked about the Town Hall meetings where citizens are invited to define the community's results: "what does this look like in action?" Between these pictures, and the video we'll post in the next week or so, hopefully you'll get a good sense of the "Green Screen" exercise we keep referencing, and the collaboration between staff and citizens in the building of results. These pictures are from last night in Monterey which was just an incredibly productive night.

Public Input Sought
By Communications & Outreach Manager Anne McGrath
The City of Monterey is launching a public review of its budget priorities this fall and your participation is vital to the success of the Priority-based Budgeting project. In good times, the City allocated its resources to a wide range of programs and services. Now, the City needs to adjust to "the new normal" of reduced revenues. In Monterey, revenue from hotel, sales and property taxes have fallen to levels not seen in years. Significant recovery is unlikely for the next several years. So, the City needs to tighten its belt just like other municipalities, businesses and citizens have done.
Several public meetings will be held in October and November to gather public input on City priorities for the future with the assistance of two nationally known consultants who are working with 16 other cities. Monterey is in much better financial shape than many other municipalities, and taking these steps pro-actively is critical to continuing on a path of fiscal soundness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fairfield Citizen Engagement Process Reaches Over 1,300 Citizens by Taking Prioritization Directly to Community Meetings


From Mid-August through September 22, 2010, the City embarked on a comprehensive public outreach process to solicit the community’s input as to how the City should allocate its resources across the City’s four results. 

The City received more than 1,300 responses that have all been collected and analyzed. 

Feedback was obtained by having staff attend and administer a survey at community, service club, business, and homeowner meetings, being available before all City Council and Commission meetings that occurred within the timeframe for this work, soliciting the input of City employees through electronic and paper surveys, and seeking the input of the community by having the survey available on the City’s website, City Hall at the Mall, and speaking to families that utilize the City’s preschool and afterschool programs. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

City of Monterey Launches Extensive Public Engagement Process to Continue their Work in Priority Based Budgeting


The City of Monterey is changing the way its annual budget is developed, so programs are transparent and linked to results, and citizens help set priorities. The process is called Priority-based Budgeting and it recasts the budget into programs instead of line items. Citizens are asked to define broad goals, such as quality of life, and then prioritize how they want their tax dollars spent to achieve those goals.

Public meetings will be held in October and November to gather citizen input. The first public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 6 from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. at the Monterey Conference Center. At that session, citizens will be briefed about the priority based budgeting process and will help refine the goals articulated by the City Council as a series of Value Drivers. A second round of public meetings will be held the week of November 8 – 12. At those sessions, citizens will be given an imaginary $500 to spend on the goals they believe are most important.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boulder proposes flat budget for 2011, holds line on expenditures

City manager proposes flat budget for 2011, holds line on expenditures « C1N Boulder Blog

Concurrent with the BRC II analysis and implementing its recommendations, the city adopted a Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB) process to identify core city services and the community goals for its municipal government. PBB is an evolution of the Boulder Business Plan and continues the city’s focus on financial sustainability by addressing critical deficiencies and allocating funds to programs and services that achieve the greatest results.

“Although Boulder is in a better financial condition than many of its peer cities, the economic outlook continues to be uncertain,” said City Manager Jane Brautigam. “In response, we’re taking a prudent and strategic approach to the 2011 recommended budget by focusing on achieving greater efficiencies in how services are delivered to the Boulder community. In many cases we have been able to reallocate staff and funding to those areas most likely to achieve community goals, and are reducing duplication of services to hold the line on spending at 2010 levels.”

Fairfield Engages Community in Priority Based Budgeting

Fairfield seeks input on budget - The Reporter

With the economy still bleak and an $8.3 million deficit looming in its 2011-12 budget, the city of Fairfield is reaching out to the community to help bridge the financial divide.

"We've made it a priority because this will impact every person's life," said Dave White, assistant to the city manager. "We want to be as available as possible."

Officials hope a new techno community outreach campaign, by way of the Priority Based Budgeting process, will generate a wealth of ideas that will ultimately shape and craft the city's budget. The PBB apparently will help the city set its financial priorities and prioritize services according to their contribution to meeting city goals.

Grand Island Budget Passes - "Council members know more about this city than ever before"

Grand Island Budget Passes - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CA-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, Lincoln

Grand Island City Council passed the proposed budget with amendments, with just three weeks to spare on Tuesday night.

The two police jobs, which were up in the air, are safe and with no tax increase this year. Congratulations and thanks were passed by almost every council member to city staff for figuring out a way to bring back two police jobs to the department and without cost to citizens.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

City of Boulder Engages in a New Conversation About the Relevance of Programs to the Results of the Community

By Heath Urie Camera Staff Writer

Posted: 07/26/2010 09:45:34 PM MDT

The city of Boulder is looking to change the way it manages its annual budget. Under the new model, the programs that best help the city achieve the community's goals of having a safe, economically sustainable and socially vibrant place to live will receive top priority for funding. Those programs that are duplicated, waste money or don't meet the community's goals could be cut.
City Manager Jane Brautigam has been working this year to move to a "priority-based" budget, in which the things most important to the community are first in line for funding. Following a series of public meetings and working with a pair of outside consultants, the city compiled a list of every public service it provides.
The new list divides the city's 443 programs into four categories, ranking them from highest to lowest priority, based on whether they help meet the community's general goals of cultivating a safe, economically sustainable and socially thriving community.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chesapeake, Virginia Begins Prioritization - "This is a More Disciplined and Analytical Approach"

Chesapeake, Virginia Begins Prioritization - "This is a More Disciplined and Analytical Approach"

With budgets getting tighter across the country, more cities are turning to Prioritzation.

"I just feel like we need to begin to put proactive steps in place so we can prepare the organization for what is ahead," said William Harrell, City Manager. "Sure, we can just start eliminating things. But then is that what the citizens are saying? Is that what council is saying to us? This is a more disciplined and analytical approach."

"It sounds intuitive but what we found was there was no real methodology to connect all of the things that government does" to what policymakers want to see for their cities.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lakeland, Florida Reaches "New Heights" in Aligning Resources with Priorities

Budget Message - Prioritization

Alignment has been taken to new heights in FY 2010 as the City developed its new “Budget by Priorities” process to better define the varied and numerous Municipal Core Services (along with their respective costs and revenues) provided to our constituents and comparatively evaluate their respective influence on achieving Goals and Outcomes. This process is specifically designed to provide a higher degree of understanding among decision makers regarding the scope, costs and impact of the various Core Services and better articulate how we value our services, invest in our priorities and ultimately divest ourselves of lower priority services.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blue Ash Leverages Citizen Survey and Public Engagement in Prioritization as City Prepares for Long-term

Update on Blue Ash's budget prioritization process cincinnati.com CommunityPress.com

Recent information from Moody's (the nation's largest bond rating agency) confirms that prioritization processes such as what Blue Ash is going through demonstrate a strategic approach to managing the current fiscal environment.

So where do we go from here? The local government advisors developed a unique tool that Blue Ash can utilize for years to come as a part of the city's annual budgetary planning process. This tool will be valuable in assisting the council and administration in determining what services and programs contribute directly to the city's overall objectives, including the evaluation of any future new programs or services being considered.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Walnut Creek Recognized for Authentic Citizen Engagement in Prioritization Process by the Institute for Local Government


Walnut Creek uses Community Dialogues to Inform Difficult Budget Decisions

Even cities with a relatively well-off population are facing difficult choices due to falling revenues. In the eastern San Francisco bay area city of Walnut Creek, as in many other cities around the state, local officials faced the unpleasant task of cutting programs in 2009 due to budget shortfalls, and the more unpleasant task of explaining this to the public. Building on an ongoing tradition of collaboration with residents and community building programs, city staff and officials worked with consultants and adopted a multi-stage public engagement Fiscal Health and Wellness prioritization process to educate and gather informed input from hundreds of residents.

City of Fairfield Launches Website Inviting Community to Follow Progress in Priority Based Budget Initiative


PBB is attractive to the City because it relies on community input and the work of employees to be successful.

In contrast to past years, decisions on potential funding reductions are expected to occur at the program level rather than at the level of individual budget line items that run across multiple programs. The results of this process are anticipated to enable decision makers to reallocate funding between programs based upon changing needs and priorities.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seaside, California "Stays True to Community's Values" by Prioritizing Investment of Shrinking Resources

City of Seaside - Budget Message
In the midst of serious fiscal challenges, it will be particularly important to stay true to the values that will carry us through these difficult times.
The goal of fiscal health was established in consideration of the need to adjust the budgeting process to more effectively align resources with the City’s priorities.

Fiscal health and wellness is an allocation of resources based on priorities.

A process based on a proven fiscal health and wellness model was used to identify all of the City’s programs. The programs were then scored based on the desired results identified by the City Council consistent with the Vision Statement for the City, which is an integral part of the City’s Strategic Plan. Programs were categorized as operational or governance to reflect that there is a structure needed to provide services to the community.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

City of Fairfield Set to Begin Prioritization

City Council set to begin review of future spending

FAIRFIELD - The final decision is 14 months away, but city leaders on Monday will start the process of making budget decisions for 2011 and 2012.

The Fairfield City Council has scheduled the special meeting to launch a 'priority-based budgeting process' -- a new approach it is taking as it prepares for an expected $8 million cut.

'The first step in that process is to help define priorities . . . and objectives for the city,' said David White, assistant to the city manager. 'Why do we come to work every day? What are we trying to do for the community?'

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

City of Grand Island Drives Budget with Prioritization - Council Commends City Administrator and Finance Director

The Independent > Archives > News > Local > City cuts are forthcoming

"Councilmen Larry Carney and Scott Dugan praised Pederson and Brown for the prioritization process. They called it a logical and understandable method of making some difficult decisions to come."

Prioritization Principles Brought to Life through Walnut Creek, San Jose, and Lakeland - Cover Story of May Government Finance Review

Download Government Finance Review - May 2010 Cover Story:

"Priority Driven Budgeting (PDB) is about how a government should invest resources in order to meet its stated objectives. Prioritization helps us to better articulate why the programs we offer exist, what value they offer to citizens, how they benefit the community, what price we pay for them, and what objectives and citizen demands they are achieving. PDB is about directing resources to those programs that create the greatest value for the public."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Boulder Business Community Gets Behind City's Prioritization Initiative


Using ROI for City Budgeting: Business Planning Meets Government Spending

How the city is going about this full spectrum analysis of the highest ROI will be discussed by our panel including Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian the consultant hired by the city to help this Priority Based Budgeting process, BRC II and Boulder Tomorrow Board member Jeff Wingert and City of Boulder Finance Director Bob Eichem.

Will your favorite programs make the cut? Come find out how programs will be evaluated and how you can weigh in on this important discussion.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Media, Editorial Board Support Grand Island's Vision in Prioritization

Budget process requires clear priorities, vision

By examining each of the 365 programs that are directed out of City Hall, the administration, mayor and city council are looking under every rock for ways to save taxpayer dollars and keep core services intact. It is a responsible and rational way to control expense growth on programs that may be well intended, but do not significantly support the community in the four core areas.

The upcoming budget sessions promise to be difficult. However the work now being done with the Program Prioritization process promises to be useful to the council, mayor, administration staff and department directors to develop an outcome that does not require painful tax increases.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blue Ash seeks citizen input on budget process

Blue Ash seeks input on budget process

Coinciding with the work underway between Blue Ash and local government advisors Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian, an open house is
scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25, in the Council Chambers of the Blue Ash Municipal & Safety Center, 4343 Cooper Road. This open house will be informal and will provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about the budget prioritization process underway. The local government advisors will be in town and at the open house to answer questions directly from residents and representatives from the city also will be on hand to talk with residents. A unique and fun interactive opportunity also will be available at the open house where residents may "cast their vote" and invest a specified virtual dollar amount as to what activities of their local government they deem most important and "valuable."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

City of Boulder Opens Result Definition Process to its Citizens to Launch Prioritization


Boulder wants public to help define citywide goals, priorities

Budget process for 2011 begins with meeting tonight
By Heath Urie Camera Staff Writer
Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder wants to move to a "priority-based" model for the city budget. That system seeks to identify how important every program, department and service is, based on whether they help achieve the goals of the community. For example, if the public and the City Council decided that having safe neighborhoods is a top priority, services like police and firefighters would likely help meet those objectives. Those departments would then look at each of their expenses to see what contributes to their success and efficiency.

Anything that doesn't could be a starting point for budget cuts. "Ranking isn't a word that I would use," Brautigam said. "Prioritizing is the way we're thinking about it."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

San Jose Budget Shortfall Informed by Context of Priotization - "It's a New Conversation"

The Program Prioritization effort will inform the development of the City’s 2010-2011 Proposed Budget and serve as a tool to identify potential service reductions and eliminations. The evaluation of programs as part of this process may also identify potential duplication of efforts or opportunities to consolidate similar programs and/or services that can delivered through partnership with other governmental agencies, non-profit agencies, or the private sector.

It is important to note that a high rating of a program will not guarantee that a program will be retained; nor does it guarantee that a lower-ranking program will be proposed for elimination. Also, the rankings do not reflect whether a program is being delivered in the most efficient manner. The prioritization process will provide valuable information for budget proposal development and City Council deliberation. It will not be the "only answer" to how best to rectify the City’s budget shortfall.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

State of Nebraska Senator Gloor Praises Grand Island Prioritization Initiative

G.I. ahead of state with prioritization process

By Sen. Mike Gloor

I read with both pleasure and envy the recent article on the city’s new Program Prioritization process. Pleasure because a discerning approach like this is the type of focused decision making model that successful businesses use. I am glad to see its use in our city’s governance. I am envious because it is the type of approach the Unicameral is moving toward with our recently initiated planning committee process. In this instance, the city of Grand Island is well ahead of the state of Nebraska.

City working on selective cuts

City working on selective cuts

Instead of making spending cuts to all city programs to deal with an estimated $3 million shortfall in the coming year's budget, Grand Island officials are closely evaluating all 350 city services to make selective adjustments.

"It's the antithesis of across the board cuts," City Administrator Jeff Pederson said of the city's ongoing Program Prioritization process.

Across the board cuts are "indiscriminate and can hurt important programs and actually retain less important or inefficient type programs," Pederson told the Grand Island Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Arkansas School Boards Association Applies Principles of Fiscal Health

“The Vital Signs of District Fiscal Health”

School District Board Members were introduced to the principles of Fiscal Health at this year's winter conference.

Grand Island - Looking for Answers through Program Prioritization

Looking for answers through Program Prioritization

"Going through a deep evaluation of city programs, rather than cutting across the board, seems the best and most sustainable method of budgeting," said Mayor Margaret Hornady.
"This is the most rational approach I've ever seen," she said.

Looking for answers through Program Prioritization

By Tracy Overstreet
Published: Sunday, March 7, 2010 10:08 PM CST

Saturday was a jolting day for the Grand Island City Council -- a $1.5 million revenue shortfall to fix for this fiscal year and a $3 million problem for the coming year.

Raising taxes to completely take care of the problem didn't seem like a good fit, so the council is looking to make cuts.

But where to cut?

That's where the city's new Program Prioritization program comes in.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blue Ash working to prioritize city services | cincinnati.com ...

Blue Ash working to prioritize city services cincinnati.com ...

Blue Ash is working with Chris Fabian and Jon Johnson to evaluate and prioritize city services as a way to assist in budgetary planning.
The course of action is intended to help focus the city's decision-making process by basing priorities on outcomes. According to Fabian and Johnson, addressing current fiscal realities while still meeting the objectives and the expectations of constituents represents the biggest challenge to every organization's long-term fiscal wellness.
Prioritization of services creates an objective and transparent decision-making process, one that ensures programs of higher value to citizens - those that achieve the organization's objectives most effectively - can be sustained through adequate funding levels regardless of the economic conditions.