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.