Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ICMA White Paper Identifies Policy Questions that PBB is Designed to Answer

The key finding of ICMA's 2011 White Paper (available for download here) is that: "persisting economic hard times will eventually require managers and governing boards to adopt service delivery and budget balancing strategies that go well beyond the typical “business as usual approaches used in past recessions. While more modest steps will likely be taken initially, as indicated by previous studies, ongoing economic challenges will call for progressively bolder actions. The impact of worsening fiscal conditions, and the extent of the remedial responses, will vary from state to state. While localities with major service responsibilities, large work forces, and inelastic tax bases will likely have experienced “New Normal” conditions before other cities and counties, over time the effects will be more widespread."

Priority Based Budgeting provides an entirely unique lens to address the policy questions raised in this paper. The Priority  Based Budgeting process provides a comprehensive review of the entire organization, identifying every program offered, identifying the costs of every program offered, evaluating the relevance of every program offered on the basis of the community's priorities, and ultimately guiding elected officials to the policy questions they can answer with the information gained from Priority Based Budgeting, such as:

•        What is the local government uniquely qualified to provide, for the maximum benefit to citizens for the tax dollars they pay?
•        What is the community truly mandated to provide? What does it cost to fulfill those mandates?
•        What are the appropriate programs to consider establishing or increasing user-fees?
•        What are the appropriate programs to consider partnerships with other community service providers?
•        What services might the local government reach consensus about “getting out of the business” of providing?
•        Where are there apparent overlaps and redundancies in a community where several entities are providing similar services?
•        Where is the local government potentially competing against businesses in its own community?

The new lens of priority-based budgeting makes it possible for elected officials, citizens, decision-makers and staff to agree and:
•        To see how to align scarce resources with the highest priorities of our communities.
•        To see the most appropriate service provider for the programs we offer.
•        To see what services residents are willing to pay for.
•        To see public and private-sector partnerships ripe for leveraging.                                                                      
•        To ultimately see a new way of determining which  services our local government is best suited to provide—services that have the greatest impact for the resources within the community’s means.

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