Thursday, July 26, 2012

Web-based Participatory Budgeting Invites Citizens to Directly Influence Priority Based Budgeting Process

The $500 Exercise gives the participants a way to communicate which of the City's Results are most important, relative to one another. All of the City's Results are important, but some may be more important than others - the exercise is designed to learn the answer to this question. By placing more of the $500 in one Result over another, the participant instructs the City as to which Results are most important, relative to all of the other Results.

Ultimately, the programs with the highest scores from this process are recognized to be the most relevant programs the City is offering, as compared to and differentiated from the programs with the lowest scores. Why? Because a higher score simply indicates that the program has a high degree of influence on everything the City is trying to achieve.

Summing it up, the $500 exercise has a direct influence on determining the overall priority and relevance of the City's programs. By extending this process to the citizens of Delray Beach, citizens are now placed in a role of influence unlike any other budgeting process – their "investment" of the $500 helps the City realize which Results are most important, and further guides the process of prioritizing the services offered by the City. It is a crucial role, and a true definition of participatory budgeting!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Early Bird Registration Ends Friday for ICMA's Annual Conference - Center for Priority Based Budgeting Presents 2 Workshops - PLUS: More on ICMA's Center for Management Strategies

Communities today struggle to develop meaningful and fiscally prudent budgets under financial pressures previously unknown. Most organizations believe that the responses they have made to the current financial crisis represent a permanent change in the way they will approach their budgeting processes. This session will explore innovative and proven tools and techniques needed to achieve both short-term relief and long-term sustainability through a unique and creative process called priority-based budgeting. Traditional responses such as across-the-board cuts, tax increases, sales of assets, pay freezes, and furloughs have not provided adequate solutions to address an organization's fiscal distress, but the question remains: what is the solution?

This session will discuss how local governments across the country have turned to priority-based budgeting to help align budgets and resources with the goals of their communities. This holistic approach to better inform budget decisions will ensure that a community identifies and preserves those programs and services that are highly valued and makes budget decisions in accordance with its findings. Priority-based budgeting has already helped 30 local governments from coast to coast deal with their fiscal realities through a step-by-step process that clearly aligns an organization's goals with the way it allocates its resources. This process was described in a 2010 Government Finance Officers Association white paper, "Anatomy of a Priority-Based Budget Process." This session will present case studies from Chandler, Arizona; Boulder, Colorado; Christiansburg, Virginia; Douglas County, Nevada; Grand Island, Nebraska; and Monterey, San José, and Walnut Creek in California, to illustrate how the process has been successfully used to address a community's unique budgetary issues.

Practice Groups 10 (Budgeting) and 11 (Financial Analysis)
Workshop Leaders: Chris Fabian and Jon Johnson, Cofounders, Center for Priority-Based Budgeting, Denver, Colorado

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Elected Officials Guide Policy Direction with Priority Based Budgeting

We're often asked about how city council members, county commissioners and all elected officials use the Priority Based Budgeting model. How deeply do they get into the details?

The City of Cincinnati has accomplished something remarkable by keeping Council focused at the policy level.

Council has generated policy questions that the model can help answer, and guided staff to answer these questions as part of the budget development process. It's a perfect application of the process!

Here is an excerpt from the Policy Guidance:

MOTION, dated June 25, 2012, submitted by Vice Mayor Qualls, Councilmembers Thomas, Young, Seelbach, Simpson, Sittenfeld, Quinlivan, that the administration construct a budget based on the following factors:
1) Use the information from the Priority Driven Budget process to recommend elimination or reduction of functions based upon whether other organizations or entities are serving the same populations or providing the same function. If this is the case, the administration should outline a method of transitioning individuals to the other services or programs.
2) Recommend changes to mandated programs that exceed the minimum requirements of the mandate.
3) Identify functions that can be shared with other political jurisdictions.
4) Identify functions that, rather than eliminate them, can be made self sufficient through the establishment of a fee structure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Delray Beach Unveils Major Innovation in Participatory Budgeting - Tool Designed for Citizens and Linked to Priority Based Budgeting

This new innovative communication tool, which promotes civic participation from anywhere and at any time, is being offered to our citizens with the expectation that it will provide the City with valuable input prior to final decisions being made on the FY 2013 Budget.

The City's new on-line Budget Challenge has been set up to provide citizens with six (6) results (or priorities) that the City continuously strives to achieve. Given a $500 budget, your role as a taxpayer is to assign a "value" or determine how you would fund the results/priorities within the upcoming FY 2013 Budget that you think are most important to our community's needs. These limited funds, which represents the limited revenues that the City Commission is faced with, may be distributed equally to each of the 6 results/priorities or among each sub-result based upon what you believe are the most important to ensure Delray Beach's continued success.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Powerful reflections on the use of Priority Based Budgeting from Cincinnati Councilwoman Simpson

"However difficult these cuts appear, we have a powerful tool to help us make thesedecisions. Over the past few months, the City, along with the Center for Priority-Based Budgeting and The Novak Consulting Group, met with citizen groups and community organizations, conducted surveys, and solicited opinions to identify what the community views as six strategic priorities for our city government. Last week, the consultants produced software categorizing each city program according to these priorities. This citizen-driven process will guide us over the coming months as we consider these tough decisions."