Friday, December 14, 2012

County explores new means to prepare budgets

The county's code enforcement office wasn't doing very well. It had lost both of its officers, and the county was under pressure to enforce a variety of rules.

But one of the rules it wasn't under any pressure to enforce was the home occupation permit. The cost of the permits wasn't covering the cost of the program. There wasn't any controversy dealing with home businesses in the county.

So, according to County Manager Steve Mokrohisky, Community Development Director Mimi Moss and her staff decided to ask commissioners to delete the requirement, allowing the code enforcement officer to pursue a far more profitable task.

“That's something they did on their own,” he said.

But it also serves as an example of how priority based budgeting works.

Priority based budgeting doesn't necessarily pit emergency services against the library. It drills down to actual programs offered by the county, 702 to be exact, ranks them based on scores, and allows commissioners to determine their relative merit.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Participatory Budgeting Meets Priority Based Budgeting in Douglas County

Citizen engagement in the budget process has been increasingly of interest in our work at the Center for Priority Based Budgeting over the last few years. The logic follows that the more citizens can authentically contribute and influence the decisions being made by their government, the more ownership they might take in their community. Trust increases with transparency. Compassion comes with trust. The benefits are undeniable.

Still, organizations ask us, "but what about the risks inherent in citizen engagement? What is the right role for citizens?" We're asked, "to what degree is it appropriate, safe, meaningful, realistic and effective to have citizens participate in decision making?" Pete Peterson, one of the nation's leading experts in the field and Executive Director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute of Public Policy pushed us to recognize the difference between citizen engagment as a means to an end, or an end in of itself.

In our work, we continue to strive for answers to these questions - they are the right questions. With the potential for such great outcomes, if we can answer them correctly and involve citizens in more meanigful and influential ways, we are moved to try and answer the questions.

For at least a glimpse at what is possible, and an inspirational glimpse at that, we are pleased to share with you Douglas County, Nevada's experience in putting citizens in the driver's seat of their Priority Based Budgeting process. Special thanks to Peak Democracy - our partners in the development of the County Budget Challenge.

Click Here for the Article Just Published in the Carson Valley's Record Courier
NOVEMBER, 30 2012

Mandee Guariglia has lived in Carson Valley for 14 years. She and her husband have two boys, and she works part-time. Despite her busy schedule, Guariglia took time out Thursday to participate in the Douglas County budget challenge at the Minden library branch.

“It sounded like a good idea, to put your voice where you want taxpayers money to go,” she said.