Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NLC’s Economic Conditions Report; Plus “SNEAK PEAK” at 2013 Priority Based Budgeting Conference Case Study Sessions

The National League of Cities has issued their findings from the 2013 Local Economic Conditions (LEC) survey, in a comprehensive four-part series. This is such an important report to understand thoroughly in order to come to terms with the fiscal reality of our communities, and then, perhaps most importantly, determine what we’re going to do about it.

If the LEC survey produced one key sentence to us at CPBB it is this: “city officials will continue to focus on core areas of local government that protect the welfare and safety of residents while increasing their focus on areas that create new jobs and revenue.”

For as unyielding as this continued economic downturn continues to be, the fundamental issue remains to be: how will we focus on our core areas of service? How do we still provide the vital services to our communities, despite our relentless fiscal challenges?

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, answering this very question – indeed, the question of our time – is the entire mission of our work. And this summer, in Washington D.C., we are showcasing some of the most inspiring and successful stories of cities and counties providing real answers to this question, with the use of Priority Based Budgeting.

We are pleased to provide a SNEAK-PEAK at the Case Studies that will headline the 2013 Priority Based Budgeting Conference co-sponsored by the International City/County Management Association and the Alliance for Innovations:

The City of Cincinnati’s use of Priority Based Budgeting (through their Priority Driven Budgeting initiative) establishes one of the greatest advancements in the use of the process to guide policy direction. The City’s response to Council’s policy direction provides one of the most comprehensive evaluations of city services across the entire organization.

Many organizations have approached us with a strong desire to bring their elected officials into a constructive and transparent discussion about the budget – Cincinnati has set the bar high in this respect. In the most direct way possible, the City used Priority Based Budgeting to guide policy-oriented discussions.  One of the benefits of the process is that it creates specific roles for elected officials to participate and succeed.When elected officials can focus on key policy questions that impact resource allocation, when they’re provided input and transparency in the way their policy questions are answered, and when they can make decisions based on policy impacts, then they’ve played a successful role in budgeting.

In June, the City Council received the results of the Priority-Driven Budgeting initiative and provided this budget policy motionwith direction for formulating the 2013/2014 Operating Budget: “That the Administration construct a budget based on the following factors:

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.
•       Recommend changes to mandated programs that exceed the minimum requirements of the mandate.
•       Identify functions that can be shared with other political jurisdictions.
•       Identify functions that, rather than eliminate them, can be made self sufficient through the establishment of a fee structure.”

“The Diagnostic Tool provided data to start discussions about the programs and services we provide to help the City analyze programs and services for cost savings, revenue enhancements and budget reductions. All of the analysis conducted allowed the City to more strategically allocate resources, and provide citizens more transparency, as well as a clearer understanding of the budget decision as we move forward.

While it is the first year Cincinnati has engaged in priority-driven budgeting to this extent, it provides a foundation for examining the services and programs the City provides that are important to the people the City serves.”

Click here to see a detailed program listing – the budget status of every City Program in PBB terms: the status of each program in terms of which are increased, decreased, receive no funding change, become reorganized, or are under review.

Douglas County, Nevada has implemented a game-changing approach to citizen engagement. In 2012, the County embarked on the Priority Based Budgeting process with one of the primary objectives being to bring their community into an ownership position with respect to decision making. What unfolded in their groundbreaking use of an online tool to engage citizens sets the bar at a whole new level in Participatory Budgeting. Not only that, but they actually experienced an increase in the County’s bond rating as a result of their work.

Citizen engagement in the budget process has been increasingly of interest in local government budgeting. 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?" 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 meaningful and influential ways, we are moved to try and answer the questions. 

Hear 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.

The City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado

The City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado is the first community to implement the entire approach to Achieving Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting – incorporating the Fiscal Health approach to communicating their financial forecast with the PBB process for resource allocation. Hear from City leaders how the Fiscal Health model changed the conversation with their elected officials, and how Priority Based Budgeting is being used to address the budget.

"PBB is truly more than just a way to address your 'budget woes.' The great thing about Priority Based Budgeting is it can help support the type of culture an organization desires by not simply viewing this process as a budget tool when it is really so much more.  PBB is helping us further our culture in areas where we know we have room for improvement.  PBB is more than being about the state of your budget, it is about the state of your organization..." 

Plus, a first-ever of it’s kind “User Group” experience will feature a panel discussion of the leading experts in Priority Based Budgeting from across the Country, featuring: 
  • The City of Fort Collins, Colorado
  • The City of Walnut Creek, California
  • The City of Lakeland, Florida
  • The City of Tualatin, Oregon
  • Boone County, Illinois
 And more! Stay tuned for the complete Conference Program Release!

The 2013 CPBB Annual Conference

"A Summit of Leading Practices"
July 9 & 10,  2013     Arlington, VA     Hilton Crystal City Hotel


1 comment:

  1. Some of these NLC-member cities REALLY need to CLEAN themselves up.
    Unchecked littering/dumping DOES negatively affect economic development/prosperity, while positively injuring, even killing citizenry and taxpayers.
    Top "America's Dirtiest Cities" include New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Memphis, Dallas, Miami and Houston.