Monday, January 27, 2014

City of Boulder, CO Budget Built Upon Priority Based Budgeting

--> Dear Members of City Council and Residents of Boulder,

I am pleased to present to you the City Manager’s 2014 Recommended Budget for review and consideration. This budget was developed in accordance with the City Charter, city financial management policies and guidelines, and City Council's adopted goals. This budget continues to recognize the national economic conditions that demand conservative approaches to managing expenses, while providing a balance between maintaining existing high-quality programs, services and infrastructure, and funding enhancements and new initiatives, to best meet the priorities of the Boulder community.

The budget is a financial document that defines the fiscal parameters of the coming year. It is a guide to allocation of resources in support of community goals, and it is a tool for strategic alignment of short-and long-term financial objectives. As a part of the process for building the 2014 Recommended Budget, city staff took a multi-year strategic approach, as well as applying the principles of Priority Based Budgeting. The result of this approach was a focus on strengthening core city services and operations, such as public safety and facility maintenance, as well as providing funding for key council initiatives and investing in the future. 

City Manager, Boulder Colorado 2014 Annual Budget Message 

"Now integrated into its fourth consecutive year of budget development, Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) is the framework within which all budget decisions are made." City of Boulder 2014 Annual Budget Policy Document

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting has proudly partnered with the City of Boulder in implementing priority based budgeting (PBB) into their annual budget process for the last four years. The City adopted priority based budgeting in 2010. During this time, the City has become a "leading practitioner" of priority based budgeting  and utilizes this process in all of their short and long-term financial decisions. Read more about Boulder's success implementing PBB and their Resource Reallocation Breakthrough here.

The City of Boulder, Colorado recently published their 2014 Annual Budget. This comprehensive policy document contains a detailed description of how the city plans to invest available resources in city operations in 2014. One of the eight main sections of the budget document is Strategy and Priorities. This section provides an in-depth look in how the city utilizes priority based budgeting for short-term and long-term budgeting and strategic economic planning. The following is an excerpt from this section.

Priority Based Budgeting

Purpose of Priority Based Budgeting

Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) builds on the city’s prior Business Plan, which separates goals and actions into near term versus long term time frames. PBB harnesses the policies and values of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and department strategic and master plans. As the cornerstone of the city’s budget process, PBB gives the city three central benefits:
  • Identifies key Council and community goals (see the next section on PBB Results and Attributes)
  • Evaluates the impact on these goals of city programs and services
  • Provides a tool for strategic decision-making in funding, adding and/or eliminating programs and services, making more effective use of the city’s limited resources. 
PBB contributes to the city’s long-term financial sustainability and allows the city of Boulder to serve its residents in the most effective, efficient and fiscally responsible manner possible. 


2014 Priority Based Budgeting Outcomes

Now integrated into its fourth consecutive year of budget development, PBB is the framework within which all budget decisions are made. In the 2014 budget process, the city was asked to use PBB in every step of the budget process and program ranking by quartile was included in all budget discussions throughout the year. To maintain value and consistency in program scoring, a Peer Review Group, a citywide team who comes together to score PBB programs and services annually, reviewed all changes between 2013 and 2014.

The city has a favorable distribution of resources between the highest priority (Quartile 1) and lowest priority (Quartile 4) programs. Fewer resources are invested in programs yielding lower impact on community values. A listing of all 2014 programs by quartile is included in the following section. Community programs are those providing direct service to residents and businesses, while governance programs are those providing support services within the city to other departments.

Due to a number of factors, including only modest revenue increase projections, with ongoing cost increases, there was limited opportunity to add resources to city programs in the 2014 budget. The 2014 budget process included identification of resources for reallocation and PBB was a tool used to help shift resources from lower to higher priority programs.

To better understand how the City of Boulder utilizes priority based budgeting as the "framework in which all budget decisions are made," click here!

Congratulations again to the City of Boulder, Colorado! You remain a true priority based budgeting all-star and a leading PBB practitioner in local government fiscal stewardship!

For more innovative priority based budgeting resources see links below:

Priority Based Budgeting: Through the Lens of a Master's Thesis

Strong Municipal Bond Ratings Propelled by Priority Based Budgeting

A Dazzling Portrait of the Power of Priority Based Budgeting

Keep an eye on the CPBB blog for further updates. Sign-up for our social media pages so you stay connected with TEAM CPBB!

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If you're thinking of jumping into the world of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting we would certainly like to be part of your efforts! Contact us to schedule a free webinar and identify the best CPBB service option(s) to meet your organization's particular needs.


"DATA VISUALIZATION" for Local Government

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