Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Priority Based Budgeting in Fairfield Profiled by Strong Cities Strong State


Priority Based Budgeting
    At the beginning of 2011, the Fairfield City Council established one goal – fix the budget. The City faced an unprecedented budget deficit - $7 million. Twenty-six million dollars had already been cut from its General Fund budget (a reduction of 31%) by reorganizing the workforce, layoffs, eliminating vacant positions, compensation cuts resulting in City facilities being closed one day each week, drawing on reserves, and the sale of surplus property.
    Cuts of this magnitude risk the elimination of entire programs. Before undertaking cuts of such impact on services and employees, the City looked to a new method of allocating resources -- Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) -- to guide the setting of its financial priorities. This process provided the framework for almost 300 programs and services to be evaluated and ranked by staff.

    Testimonials Pour in from the Fairfield Community as City Completes 2nd Year in Priority Based Budgeting

     “I couldn’t ask for a better city manager or council to be in partnership with. They are open to new ideas and encourage the community to work together on positive improvements for our city. These partners collaborated with the County, and we had a very successful Business Forum this summer, which was an excellent example of a public/private partnership. The forum provided an environment for business and government leaders to sit down together to discuss and strategize how we can help ourselves and each other, rather than just waiting for economic recovery or the federal or state government to save us. Our city manager is a phenomenal leader who attracts strong staff and compels our community to keep moving forward.” - Herm Rowland Sr., CEO, Jelly Belly Candy Company
     "As the CEO/Executive Director of Mission Solano, a local nonprofit, the importance of partnerships can make the difference between failure and success. The City of Fairfield has been that partner who has not just said that our local nonprofits are important to the City; they have put action to their words. Their partnership has been seen in commitment, compassion, and concern for the viability of the services Mission Solano provides. They are a living, breathing example of public/private partnerships!" - Ron Marlette, Mission Solano
     "Without exception, the City of Fairfield, from the Mayor through the City Council, as well as the city administration, has demonstrated keen leadership over the years to improve the quality of life for our citizens and local business owners." - Jay Adair, CEO, Copart
     “As Pastor of the St. Stephen CME Church, I believe that there should be a working relationship between the leaders within the City of Fairfield and the faith community. I am very, very excited about the relationship that we share - our mayor, city manager, city council, and police and fire chiefs are very supportive of what we do within the faith community. I am so glad to be a resident of the city of Fairfield and lead a congregation here.” - Rev. David C. Isom, Senior Pastor St. Stephen, CME Church
     “The City of Fairfield and the Chamber of Commerce work closely together to insure our community leaders are well informed of business issues that have a tremendous impact on the sustainability of the community. We are committed to partner with the City and collaborate when necessary. The City officials and staff are exemplary of a successful relationship that works!” - Leslie Fay, President/CEO, Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce
     “I moved to Fairfield in February 2002, when the Hilton Garden Inn was being built. Two of the first people I met were Sean Quinn and Karl Dumas from the City’s economic development team. I was extremely happy to work with them both throughout the completion of this hotel project, and have been very fortunate to continue forging strong relationships with them and many other City officials and staff. The one thing that has never changed is the passion of the people in this City’s government to make Fairfield a better place to live and do business. I thank our City for helping make the Hilton Garden Inn a success and their never-ending desire to improve our community.” - Kevin E. Johnson, CHA, General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    County Looks at Budgeting in the "New Normal"


    County looks at budgeting under 'the new normal'

    With million-dollar budget shortfalls anticipated for the next five years, Douglas County commissioners, staff and elected officials met Thursday for a look at budgeting under “the new normal.”

    Consultants Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian of the Denver-based Center for Priority-Based Budgeting made separate presentations for a process designed to bring “fiscal health and wellness” to local government.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    County focuses on priority-based budgeting


    Douglas County commissioners have scheduled a workshop Thursday for an overview on priority-based budgeting, one of the board's strategic goals.

    County Manager Steve Mokrohisky said commissioners, elected officials and staff are to hear from representatives of the Colorado-based Center for Priority-Based Budgeting who will discuss the system they have implemented in 20 local governments nationwide.

    “Priority-based budgeting is an objective decision-making process that focuses on allocating available resources to the programs and services that have the highest value and results to our organization and community,” Mokrohisky said.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    City of Mission Viejo, California Successfully Balances Budget with Priority Based Budgeting

    Read the City's Budget Message:

    The goal in developing the 2011-13  budget was to  avoid having to  draw down discretionary reserves to balance the budget, and given that the 2009-11 budget incorporated roughly a $1.5 million annual draw down of discretionary reserves, the need to make a significant reduction in the City’s adopted budget for 2011-13 was anticipated.

    The PBB process, used by a number of agencies around the country, is designed to  better align  an agency’s budget resource allocation decisions with  community  values and the agency’s strategic goals.  The underlying premise of the approach is that across-the-board cuts that are often used in governmental agencies to achieve budget balance, are not the best approach since they put equal importance on all budget expenditures when, in fact, some activities contribute more to achieving the strategic goals of the organization than do other activities.

    The City Manager developed budget reduction targets for  FY 2011/12 and FY 2012/13 for each City
    department based on the results of this budget prioritization project that were proportionate to how the
    department’s programs fell into the various quartiles.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Watch a Public Hearing on the City of Boulder's Discussion of Priority Based Budgeting

    Boulder City Council Meeting - Oct 4, 2011 pt2

    Question: How was Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) incorporated into the budget process
    and where is this reflected in the 2012 Recommended Budget? What improvements can be
    made to describe PBB results for future budget years?

    Staff Response: This is the second year of implementation of PBB, an iterative process for
    prioritizing city programs according to their contributions to a series of defined results
    customized for the city of Boulder. The results defined for the city’s programs and services
    (shown in the City Manager’s Budget Message, pages 33-35) are the following six
    overarching objectives that reflect City Council and broader community priorities:
     Accessible and Connected Community
     Economically Vital Community
     Environmentally Sustainable Community
     Healthy and Socially Thriving Community
     Safe Community
     Good Governance

    Through the PBB process, all city programs and services are categorized in an inventory of
    programs by department. All programs then go through an internal citywide scoring
    assessment, which is the classification of each PBB program into one of four quartiles, with
    the first quartile indicating that a program has the highest influence on achieving the city’s
    defined results, and the fourth quartile indicating the lowest level of influence.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Boulder's 2012 Budget Highlights Second Year of Priority Based Budgeting, Further Confirms City as Leader in the Practice

    The recommended budget continues the city’s 2011 transition to priority-based budgeting that reflects community priorities.

    “The combination of budget reallocations, the reorganization of some programs, and the development of a capital investment strategy ensures the City of Boulder will be in a financial position to maintain core government services over the long term,” explained Brautigam. “The reorganization of programs and services allows the city to restructure several existing positions to achieve cost savings in several programs and add 12 full-time equivalent positions to meet increasing demand for services in selected areas.”

    See City Manager's 2012 Budget Message in Full:

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Evidence Continues to Mount - Priority Based Budgeting Supports Strong Ratings from Credit Rating Agencies

    Here at the Center, we have been extremely interested for some time in how credit rating agencies (CRA's) would evaluate the Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) efforts of the communities we're working with.

    Communities are seeking every possible means to prevent downgrades in their ratings. And the credit rating agencies are facing immense pressure to substantiate the ratings they report - strong or weak. We are keeping a close eye on this, and we'll continue to be publishing blog updates as we learn how the CRA's perceive how PBB can provide evidence that a community is taking a sustainable and responsible approach to resource allocation, basing decisions on the long-term health of the community in light of its values and priorities.

    We're so pleased to share this report from the City of Chesapeake, Virginia upon city manager William Harrell's announcement that the rating agencies confirmed the City's strong ratings, based in part on the evidence of their long-term view.

    "There is no question these are difficult times for governments at all levels," said Harrell. "The Chesapeake City Council has said time and again that we must keep our focus on our long term goals, while still maintaining the best quality of life for our citizens. These ratings provide clear evidence that we are indeed charting a sustainable course for the City's future."

    "The three ratings are a testament to the conservative and forward-looking fiscal management leadership of Chesapeake's City Council and staff," said Harrell. "Achieving a ‘stable outlook,' given the current economic challenges facing cities locally and across the nation, speaks volumes to the hard work our staff and elected officials have done to strategically position Chesapeake for continued success."

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Boulder's Ideal Application of Priority Based Budgeting Process Results in Citizen Support for Specific Fee Increases


    The City of Boulder is applying Priority Based Budgeting in the absolute ideal way in order to hone in on programs ideally suited for a discussion of fee increases; and they're succeeding! PBB's relentless focus on programs, the relevance of those programs, and the costs of providing the programs allowed the City to isolate and filter-in on a select group of programs that weren't fully covering their costs AND which the customers of such programs would entertain a discussion of a fee increase.

    Congratulations to the City - these kinds of reactions from citizens, as the Daily Camera published today, are remarkable!

    Martin Long, a Boulder resident who was using the East Boulder Community Center on Friday afternoon, said he doesn't mind paying a little more to get into the center next year.

    "It's a wonderful facility," he said. "I like it a lot. I'm willing to pay for what I use."

    Sara Hahn, who was splashing in the community center's pool with her kids, said she wouldn't even notice a 25-cent increase.

    "I'm from California, so everything is like half the price here," she joked.

    Renting a shelter at the Eben G. Fine, Foothills, North Boulder and Martin parks is expected to double in cost next year, from $50 to $100. Special event permits at city parks would increase exponentially -- anywhere from 50 percent to 3,700 percent, depending on the number of attendees.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Priority-based budgeting demands results : Municipal Association of SC

    Priority-based budgeting demands results : Municipal Association of SC

    The Municipal Association of South Carolina has published a great summary of Priority Based Budgeting, drawing from our White Paper with GFOA ("Anatomy of a Priority Based Budgeting Process, http://www.gfoa.org/downloads/GFOA_AnatomyPriorityDrivenBudgetProcess.pdf) and the observations of City Administrator of Greer.

    As local governments across the nation adapt to the economy’s “new normal,” they have begun to turn away from traditional budgeting techniques and adopt a new budgeting philosophy: priority-based budgeting. Instead of incrementally raising revenue and expenditure estimates every year, priority-based budgeting advocates deciding upon then funding those services that are most valuable to the community. This process recognizes that there may not be funding resources available for everything the city or town would like to do, or even to fund everything they have previously done.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    City of Seaside Launches 2011-2012 PBB Process - Council Establishes Fiscal Health and Wellness Among Policy Goals

    In recognition of the need to focus on the City's priority services and invest shrinking resources on those areas that will help advance economic development over the long-term, the City Council set forth Fiscal Wellness (Priority Based Budgeting) among their 2011-2014 goals.

    Continuing to focus on these strategic goals will be important to ensure that the City can survive financially and position itself for the economic upturn. The Strategic Plan and the associated fiscal health process can be considered when making the difficult decisions associated with the immediate need to keep the budget balanced. In the long-term, the City's ability to accomplish its strategic goals will lead to the fiscal stability needed to restore and enhance services for the community.

    In 2011-2012, the scoring of programs will be reviewed and the public will be invited to join the process in preparation for the 2012-2014 two year budget development.
    In recognition of the need to focus on the City's priority services and invest shrinking resources on those areas that will help advance economic development over the long-term, the City Council set forth Fiscal Wellness (Priority Based Budgeting) among their 2011-2014 goals.

    Continuing to focus on these strategic goals will be important to ensure that the City can survive financially and position itself for the economic upturn. The Strategic Plan and the associated fiscal health process can be considered when making the difficult decisions associated with the immediate need to keep the budget balanced. In the long-term, the City's ability to accomplish its strategic goals will lead to the fiscal stability needed to restore and enhance services for the community.

    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 provides a basis for the allocation of the City's resources based on priorities. In order to achieve fiscal health, an organization must:

    • Spend within its means

    • Establish and maintain reserves

    • Understand variances (budget vs. actual)

    • Know the true cost of doing business

    • Include economic analysis and long-term planning in decision-making

    In early 2010, the City Council engaged in a process, based on a proven fiscal health and wellness model, 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. Programs were categorized as operational or governance to reflect that there is a structure needed to provide services to the community.

    The process was then used to identify the range of services offered by the City and determine if resources are going to the highest priority projects. In Seaside, the process demonstrated that the City is generally spending it funds on those programs determined to be the highest priority and that even those with lower scores were considered worthwhile.

    In 2011-2012, the scoring of programs will be reviewed and the public will be invited to join the process in preparation for the 2012-2014 two year budget development. The challenge will continue be the City's limited resources and that the City does not have the staff or the funding to continue to do what it has done in the past. In order to balance both the 2011-2012 budget and the 2012-2014 budget, it may be necessary to reduce or eliminate programs that while valuable, are not mandatory or required to meet the City's primary municipal responsibilities.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    City of Boulder's Second Year Implementation of PBB Streamlines the Process

    The city is now in its second year of Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB). PBB is the iterative process of prioritizing city programs in terms of their influence on achieving defined “results” which are the high level, overarching objectives that represent the priorities of City Council and the community. These results were developed as a part of the 2011 budget process, and incorporated City Council and community feedback and input.

    The focus this year has been on achieving greater consistency and internal improvement to the PBB process, specifically in the areas of program definition, score assessment, and communications with departments, as well as on better aligning the PBB timeline with the Budget Process timeline.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Front Lines of PBB: Fire Department Cuts Costs, Increases Services

    "The call we made is really to give the best service we could with the dollars available"

    Many organizations embarking upon the path of Priority Based Budgeting are particularly interested in knowing how this process has impacted traditional public safety departments like Police and Fire. Like they expect to hear, we demonstrate that because many of the programs offered within Police and Fire departments show strong influences on most communities objectives like "Safe Community," "Vibrant Economy," "Quality Neighborhoods," "Effective Transportation" and so on, that many (not all) programs offered by these departments rank highly relevant through Priority Based Budgeting.

    But that's not the end of the conversation, it's truly the beginning: how does a department with highly prioritized programs evolve to meet new demands, start new programs, become more effective when (even though PBB suggests they won't be cut) there aren't new resources to grow the department?

    Grand Island's Fire Department provides this absolutely inspiring story. We urge those considering PBB to read it and be encouraged by what can be accomplished...

    Grand Island's Fire Department is looking to actually increase services.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Program Prioritization computer model perfected > The Independent > News > Local

    Program Prioritization computer model perfected > The Independent > News > Local: "Program Prioritization computer model perfected"
    By Tracy Overstreet tracy.overstreet@theindependent.com
    Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 10:13 PM CDT

    Grand Island city officials will be able to sort down to the "granular level" in analyzing the nearly 300 city services provided, what they cost, what they earn, how reliant residents are upon the services and which ones are mandated by state and federal government.Consultants

    Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian gave an interactive demonstration Tuesday of the updated Program Prioritization software program they developed that contains detailed data on every Grand Island city service and the rankings the council gave on which services are most important.The demonstration was part of a Grand Island City Council study session at City Hall.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Tualatin Continues to Stay True to the Principles of Fiscal Health: "This year, the Fiscal Health model showed that Tualatin is in a very stable condition."

    City Budget Recap: Last year, the City embarked on a Fiscal Health initiative in which staff assessed ongoing revenues and expenditures vs. one-time revenues and expenditures and incorporated new long-term planning tools to assist the decision making process. Other components of the Fiscal Health plan included: spending within our means; establishing and maintaining reserves; and being transparent about the "true cost of doing business."

    This year, the Fiscal Health model showed that Tualatin is in a very stable condition.

    Grand Island Mayor Reflects on Process, Citizen Input

    GI Asks for Citizen Input and Advice on Proposed Budget - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CA-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, Lincoln:

    'As Mayor, I can tell you, this -- I'm proud of what's occurred so far. The hard work by many people has been tremendous with the goal of living within our means and setting a financially sustainable path in the future. The ultimate success of this work during today's 'new normal' is now dependent upon help from our entire community.'"

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    ALEC Report on States: States Need to Adopt a "Priority Based Budget"

    ALEC MacIver Institute: "The study suggests states adopt a “priority-based budget.” A key to this perspective on a state’s budget is to carefully examine the role of government. The study reports governments must properly understand their role in order to provide the services people need, while also protecting individual rights. The study encourages legislatures to focus on the core functions government and to avoid wasting time and money on nonessential and trivial undertakings. Along with this suggestion, the report includes ten golden rules of taxation; sometimes called the ten commandments of supply-side economics."

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Delray commissioners hire firm to close projected budget gap

    Delray commissioners hire firm to close projected budget gap
    By Palm Beach Business.com

    DELRAY BEACH — Staring down the barrel of a project revenue shortfall approaching $3 million, Delray Beach City Commissioners agreed to some outside help in putting together the budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1.

    Commissioners agreed to hire the Denver-based Center for Priority Based Budgeting to help put together a budget geared towards “the community’s highest priority programs,” while shifting money away from other less important programs.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Monterey Passes Budget - PBB helps the City determine what city services are mandated, which have costs that can be covered by user fees, and whether the services could be supplied by the marketplace

    Monterey OKs $94M priority-based budget - MontereyHerald.com :
    Monterey's first priority-based budgeting process ended last week with the adoption of a $94 million budget for fiscal 2011-12. Assistant City Manager Fred Cohn said priority-based budgeting has become a new trend among cities, turning away from the traditional line-item budget to one that takes in several factors, including what the general public wants its city to do.

    The $94,853,832 budget, which includes a general fund operating budget of $56,737,070, came after four public meetings — over and above City Council meetings — that invited residents to list their own priorities for spending the city's income, Cohn said.

    'This was an opportunity to link various services we perform with the council's value drivers which it deemed was important for the community, and get a sense of what the community values were,' Cohn said.

    These factors, were considered along with determining what city services are mandated, which have costs that can be covered by user fees, and whether the services could be supplied by the marketplace."

    New Hampshire Municipal Manager's Association Welcomes the Center for Discussion of Fiscal Health and Wellness


    Local government managers are always looking for better ways to do things in their communities. Priority based budgeting is a model that has been successfully implemented in several municipalities across the country. John Johnson and Chris Fabian of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting will present a half day workshop on achieving fiscal health and wellness, and reviewing the priority based budgeting model. Participants will be given information along with hands on tools and techniques to take back to their communities. The review will include the five principles of fiscal health and how preventative diagnosis can uncover potentially unhealthy practices that could easily be corrected.

    Boulder revives community survey - Priority Based Budgeting Brings Relevance to Traditional Survey Efforts

    Boulder revives community survey - Boulder Daily Camera
    Traditional citizen survey efforts may regain relevance when used in the context of Priority Based Budgeting.

    "What would you change about Boulder? That's essentially what thousands of Boulder residents will be asked to answer later this year as part of a comprehensive community survey.

    Sarah Huntley, a city spokeswoman, said the city manager decided to resurrect the survey to help inform the new "priority-based budgeting" model, in which the city prioritizes funding based on the community's goals and desires."

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Monterey's Priority Based Budgeting - "the motivation to make decisions, albeit difficult ones, that are in the best interests of the residents, businesses, and visitors that we serve"


    The City Council was informed last spring that due to the prolonged recession coupled with increased costs the City’s General Fund still faced a structural imbalance of about $5 million, even after the substantial budget reduction measures already taken in the previous year. However, unlike many cities and the State of California, who were forced by poor planning to rush a budget reduction plan into place, this City Council directed staff to take the time to gather input from the community in order to help prioritize the difficult budget choices ahead.

    This was done last fall using a Priority-based Budgeting process.

    It is a consensus-based strategy developed by all department heads built on the knowledge gleaned from the Priority-Based Budgeting process and the motivation to make decisions, albeit difficult ones, that are in the best interests of the residents, businesses, and visitors that we serve.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Building Economically Resilient Communities Conference

    neha2011aec.org - Building Resilient Communities

    The National Environmental Health Association has created a track devoted to Building Economically Resilent Communities, at this year's annual conference in Columbus, Ohio (June 18-20).

    The concept is completely unique, portraying Economic Sustainability as the confluence of a government's fiscal health (what Jon and I are working on here at the Center), a community's overall economic well-being (what you'll hear Fort Collins CFO, Mike Freeman discuss), and the environmental health of a region (NEHA's expertise).

    City / county managers will be exposed to evidence that sustainability initiatives (fiscal, economic, and environmental) are literally at the root of Resiliency, as witnessed and demonstrated in these sessions. As communities today struggle to balance their budgets while preserving long-term economic growth, these sessions will demonstrate that all are achievable. Building Resilient Communities begins with a new definition of Sustainability.

    For more on the sessions, click below

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Christiansburg, VA Proposes FY 11-12 Budget on the Foundation of Priority Based Budgeting

    Go Directly to the Town's Website at:

    The Center for Priority Based Budgeting also provided town staff with access to their proprietary spreadsheets and filtering systems as they work to allocate resources based on priorities. These systems will allow for closer examination of programs and services and the impact they have on town spending. They are designed to promote questioning by staff of what else can be done, who the town can possibly partner with to continue to provide the same level of service expected by the public, etc. The intent of the process is to provide a new way of looking at information and generating the conversations that need to be had in order to make tough funding decisions.

    The town hopes to continue to utilize the priority based budgeting approach in the future, whether facing tough economic times or not. In addition to providing a way to completely review existing programs and services in upcoming years, it will also allow suggestions for new programs or services to be evaluated using established criteria as a means of determining whether implementing the prospective program should be a high priority for the town and our citizens.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    MONTEREY PRESS RELEASE: Initial Budget Reduction Plan Presented to Public - Approach Upholds Principles of Priority Based Budgeting

    MONTEREY PRESS RELEASE: Initial Budget Reduction Plan Presented to Public - Approach Upholds Principles of Priority Based Budgeting

    Download Staff Presentation from City of Monterey Website at: http://www.monterey.org/prioritybasedbudget/docs/PrelimBudgetReductionStrategyFY12.pdf

    “We have cut millions of dollars out of the City budget over the last two years, and there really isn’t anything left to cut that won’t be painful for our residents and our employees,” said City Manager Fred Meurer. “That is why we have worked diligently this year to get the all of our stakeholders involved in the priority-based budgeting process.”

    Priority-based budgeting will move the City away from line-item budgeting and toward program budgeting. Program budgeting eventually will help the City determine the true cost of the programs it delivers; see if the fees charged, or perhaps should charge, cover the costs of a program; and build a budget for the future based on what the City can afford.

    City of Grand Island Launches Into Another Year of Priority Based Budgeting with Deeper Review of Results

    Grand Island's priorities remain the same > The Independent > News > Local
    By Tracy Overstreet, Wednesday, April 20, 2011 10:12 AM CDT

    A safe community remained the overall No. 1 city priority in a resurvey of the Grand Island City Council, but four new ideas were added to the 21 priorities the council first set two years ago. Those new priorities were immigration control, regional travel/airport development, rightsizing government/outsourcing, and having representation for the city in higher government. The new ideas were write-ins to the survey the council took over the weekend as part of the "$500 exercise" for the city's program prioritization process.

    Program prioritization is a budgeting mechanism that begins with asking how much money the city has available, as opposed to how much money it needs, said consultant Jon Johnson.

    He and Chris Fabian of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting in Denver began working with the council in 2009 to determine what the city's core functions were and how best to allocate the city's limited resources to those functions.

    Christiansburg officials pleased with budget survey response

    Christiansburg officials pleased with budget survey response Community Current - roanoke.com: "Christiansburg officials pleased with budget survey response
    The Town of Christiansburg received a successful return rate on its budget survey, and other localities took note, spokeswoman Becky Wilburn said Tuesday.

    In a presentation to council, Wilburn said she received 1,152 survey responses, which represents 6.6 percent of the town’s 2010 adult population.
    Christiansburg paid The Center for Priority Based Budgeting $22,000 to help create a survey intended to aid council in putting together the budget.

    Last month, residents received a survey that acted as a simulated exercise, in which they were “given” $100. The residents were asked how they would spread the money among various town needs, deciding which are most important.

    The number of responses Christianbsburg received was rated second among surveys created by the company, Wilburn said. The locality with the most received responses from 1,300 people but had a population five times that of Christiansburg, she said.

    Because of the town’s success with its survey, Wilburn said she’s been contacted by other localities interested in how they got such feedback. She said she will host a national webinar on the issue. Town Council is slated to hold a budget work session Tuesday."

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Boulder Promotes Physical and Fiscal Fitness - Resource Allocation Clearly Promotes Community Value of a Healthy City

    Boulder Promotes Physical and Fiscal Fitness
    “People here take health and fitness very seriously,” says Steve Mertz. And so does City government. 

    Another way in which Boulder encourages a healthy lifestyle is through its budgeting process, Priority Based Budgeting, explains Jennifer Bray.  One of the results against which all 500-plus programs in the City are measured is “A Healthy City and Community.” In other words, the City makes a specific effort to lend support to programs that promote health and fitness within the community.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Fiscal Distress: Tools to Diagnose the Cause and Apply the... | icma.org

    Fiscal Distress: Tools to Diagnose the Cause and Apply the... icma.org
    For those of you who are participating in the March 10th webconference, Getting Ready for the Budgeting Process: How to Use Priority-Based Budgeting, you will benefit from this topic in a different way. The March 10th event focuses on fiscal wellness (prioritization budgeting). This webconference focuses on fiscal health. Two sides of the same coin, each topic has its own unique tools and techniques.

    Get real-life examples of how local governments are benefiting from using this diagnostic approach to fiscal health. Chris and Jon will demonstrate the “Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool,” point by point.

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    GFOA Publishes White Paper on Priority Based Budgeting Methodologies

    GFOA's White Paper, which Jon and I had the priviledge to co-author with Shayne Kavanagh, documenting some of the key ingredients of a Priority Based Budget initiative. While most governments today agree on the need to prioritize services and resource allocation, the key issue remains: how does an organization actually DO this? What is the process? This is a paper about our methodologies and process which are pioneering in the field of priority based budgeting, as well as some of our most successful stories from the work, namely: San Jose, Lakeland, Walnut Creek, Blue Ash, Grand Island, Chesapeake, Boulder and Fairfield.

    To quote Chesapeake's City manager, William Harrell: "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."- Virginia Pilot

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Christiansburg Gains Community Support for Priority Based Budgeting Approach

    Christiansburg Tries New Approach on Town Budget

    Christiansburg Tries New Approach on Town Budget
    Posted: Mar 08, 2011 4:23 PM MST

    Christiansburg, VA - As governments look for new and better ways to stretch your tax dollars, many municipalities around the country are turning to a relatively new approach. It's making your money go farther, while bringing residents into the decision-making process.

    The town of Christiansburg is trying what's called Priority Based Budgeting. The idea is to establish priorities within town departments that will help the decision makers avoid often counterproductive across the board cuts.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Monterey Hosts Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Latest in Prioritization Initiative


    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.

    Preliminary results will be presented to the City Council on March 1 in the Council Chamber. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting. The item is currently scheduled for the evening session of the Council meeting.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Upcoming ICMA Webinar: Getting Ready for the Budgeting Process: How to Use Priority-Based Budgeting

    Getting Ready for the Budgeting Process: How to Use Priority-Based ...

    We're pleased to be connecting with ICMA for this 1.5 hour webinar. What's different about this webinar from past versions is that:
    a.) we'll be completely focusing in on Priority Based Budgeting (whereas another webinar we'll offer in April will be focused entirely on a "How To" for diagnosing Fiscal Health),
    b.) we'll be emphasizing in much greater detail the Resource Allocation Model, which is the final tool organizations are using to base resource allocation decisions on the work they've completed in the prioritization process - discover a way to look at all the programs and services your organization offers through the “unique window” that this priority-based budgeting process has created and have better conversations than ever about mandates, fee structures, citizens’ reliance and community partnerships

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Citizen Blogger Perspective: Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent?

    Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent?Depot Dazed Depot Dazed

    Christiansburg asks citizens for input on how tax money should be spent? Posted on February 15, 2011 by Carol Lindstrom

    My first response to this? “What? Who? How?”. Then it went to “this is a joke, isn’t it?”, no government does that. They must mean it will be something that happens during the scheduled budget meetings that few citizens ever attend. That’s gotta be it. They couldn’t be asking citizens for information in an open format encouraging all citizens to participate.

    NOPE WRONG! It is coming in your next water bill if you are a resident of Christiansburg. If you miss that it will be coming to the meetings of various civic groups like the Lions Club, the Kiwanis Club, the NAACP! Mayor Ballengee even offered to have PR Chief Becky Wilburn go to other meetings if those groups will but contact Town Hall and ask.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Town Councilmember Stipes Reflects on Priority Based Budgeting from an Elected Officials Perspective

    - AdvanceChristiansburg - Fiscal Year 2011 -2012

    "It's safe to say that we all realize that it's impossible for Town Government to be all things to all people, so by this exercise we're taking a step back from budgeting 'business as usual' to break down town operations as they are today and analyzing/prioritizing next year's budget (and future budgets) with the expectations of the community as a whole; a grass-roots approach to actually building a budget as opposed to just projecting the status quo into the next year."

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Institute for Local Government Lauds Monterey's Priority Based Budgeting Efforts to Engage Residents in the Process

    Monterey Residents Help City Set Budget Priorities Institute for Local Government

    In 2010, the City of Monterey engaged staff and residents in a priority-based budgeting process to determine how to best address reduced revenues and a five million dollar budget gap. Rather than make across the board cuts, the city brought in The Center for Priority Based Budgeting to help them engage staff and residents in transparently crafting a budget linked to results and values most important to the community. The city hired consultants who have developed and refined a process for aligning city resources and services with community values that has also been adapted for use in Walnut Creek, Fairfield, and 14 other communities. Residents were asked to further define broad goals set by the City Council, and then to prioritize how they wanted their tax dollars spent to achieve those goals. After extensive public education and outreach, an internal staff dialog and four facilitated public meetings, the consultants will report what they have learned about the priorities of the more than 600 Monterey residents who engaged in the process to the City Council in February of 2011.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    City of Boulder Cites Priority Based Budgeting as Key to their Financial Stability According to State of the City Address

    City of Boulder is Stable According to State of the City Address

    The State of the City address, given by Boulder mayor Susan Osborne and City Manager Jane Brautigam, indicates that Boulder is relatively stable, though the economy is clearly everyone’s number one concern.

    The city has taken steps to be more fiscally conscious, including using a new priority-based budget system. "Our Priority Based Budgeting system will help identify the most essential services as we continue to engage the community in articulating our shared values."

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Christiansburg Virginia's Priority Based Budgeting Initiative Focus of 2011 Keating Report on Government Budgets and Spending

    2011 Keating Report on Government Budgets and Spending Forecast - GovPro article

    Local governments are contracting with not-for-profit groups like the Denver-based Center for Priority Based Budgeting to help with the budget process. Christianburg, Va., (2009 population, 19,638) recently approved an agreement to use the center's services starting with fiscal year 2011-12.

    "We have to find a new way to do our budget. The way we've been doing it is not going to work," said Christianburg's finance director, Val Tweedie when the deal was announced. Contracting with the company would allow for a "healthier" budget process, Tweedie said.

    The Center for Priority Based Budgeting consults with governing bodies to assess departments, goals and needs in relation to spending, while helping establish a budget process that works best for the municipality. The firm uses a detailed scoring system for each department and prioritizes activities based on performance and need when considering the budget.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    City of Walnut Creek Showcased for Citizen Engagement in Priority Based Budgeting at Institute for Local Government Conference (MMANC 2010)

    Best Practices in Participatory Budgeting

    This session at the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC) Annual Conference in October 2010 featured innovative city efforts to engage the public in local budgeting. Moderated by Terry Amsler, Institute for Local Government, Walnut Creek Assistant City Manager Lorie Tinfow was a featured speaker on Priority Based Budgeting and the City's extraordinary efforts in citizen engagement.

    Best Practices in Budgeting Session at 2010 MMANC Annual Conference from Institute for Local Government on Vimeo.