Monday, March 18, 2013

Visionary and Monterey's PBB Pioneer, Don Rhoads, Heads to the Hills (Beverly Hills, that is)...

From the Monterey County Herald: "City Manager Fred Meurer credited Rhoads with leading the city through the Great Recession and starting a priority-based budget process, which increased fiscal transparency."

Don Rhoads was one of the first true visionaries in Priority Based Budgeting, who knew immediately that the City of Monterey needed to implement the process. Fred Meurer's quote from the Herald is right on target: Don's leadership and vision is directly responsible for the financial sustainability and success of the City of Monterey through the Great Recession. We could not have been more fortunate than to have worked for Don, and his team, in Monterey.

Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian, Co-Founders of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, offer this review of our work with the City, as we wish Don the best in Beverly Hills: “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.”

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 CPBB because of the proven and refined process for aligning city resources and services with community values that has been implemented successfully in neighboring California 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.

The City of Monterey chose a two-year implementation process.  For the first year, CPBB was engaged to assist the City in reviewing their strategic Results in the form of “value drivers” and then developing definitions of those value drivers and creating “Result Maps”, conducting an orientation workshop for department directors and one for Council.  The project also called for the project team to coach the City as it developed program inventory listings.

Upon completion of this first phase, the City moved on to the next phase where CPBB assisted the City in the completion of the scoring of programs, conducted a Peer Review process, assisted and facilitated a robust Citizen Engagement process and finally developed the program prioritization arrays by score and by cost for utilization in the City’s budget process.

According to “Strong Cities, Strong State,” a California think-tank: “Using a mathematical model developed by consultants with the Center for Priority-based budgeting, the priorities given to specific City programs were considered by executives and the City Council during budget deliberations. The Monterey City Council adopted a balanced 2011-2012 budget and closed a $5 million gap between expenses and revenues with public support and a more informed citizenry."

“The success of the program encouraged the City to continue its commitment to priority-based budgeting. During the current fiscal year, the program focuses internally as departments analyze their programs, staffing and costs. Next year, the City will once again reach out to its citizens for feedback through a comprehensive community survey. Ultimately, the City hopes its new approach to budgeting will monitor the performance of individual programs; help set fees more accurately, and assist in decision-making about where to invest and / or withdraw City resources.”

Congratulations again, Don! CPBB wishes you the best of luck in replicating your success in Beverly Hills.

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