Monday, March 17, 2014

Bainbridge Island, Washington Joins the "New Wave" of Priority Based Budgeting

In a recent article in the Bainbridge Island Review, Staff Writer Cecilia Garza writes, Baimbridge Begins Move to Use Priority Based Budgeting. See the full article below.

The city’s budget will be recalculated in time for the 2015-2016 budget process, the Bainbridge city council decided Monday.

Like many communities, for years Bainbridge’s budgeting process has consisted of simply modifying the previous year’s budget. This year, though, City Manager Doug Schulze said the city will conduct a complete overhaul of its budgeting process by partnering up with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting.

I think there are different levels of how cities have used a similar concept in the past, but this is really something that is a relatively new approach to budgeting for local governments,” Schulze said. With priority-based budgeting, the city will refocus its financial efforts to how people want their tax dollars spent in this community, Schulze said.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved a contract with the center. The consultant will work with city staff over the course of five to six months to define goals the city hopes to achieve for meeting community expectations.

It will also develop a comprehensive list of city programs and services, identify the costs of those services and help prioritize each one accordingly.

The consultant will additionally develop a web-based Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool for the city to
help staff properly diagnose future symptoms and causes of a departmental budget issues.

By analyzing the city’s financial history, the diagnostic tool will help staff communicate the city’s fiscal health to elected leaders, administration officials and other community stakeholders. It will likewise allow staff to graphically depict how ongoing and one-time funding sources line up with the city’s expenditure needs.

The new approach will give staff a way to monitor the city’s budget and gauge long-term impacts.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilman Wayne Roth — who promoted priority-based budgeting during his campaign for council last year – questioned what kind of budgeting method the city has previously relied on.

I can’t imagine ever doing a budget without a developed strategic priority and setting a budget to address the priorities,” Roth said.

“I’m reading this more as a way to have a third-party guide us through something intuitive we all know how to do, even if we haven’t done it exactly,” Roth added.

Schulze said that cities commonly make adjustments to preexisting budgets. Taking it to this level of prioritizing will be an overhaul for the city’s finance department in how it distributes resources.

Finance Director Ellen Schroer further explained how the consultant would be offering valuable training.

The tool for fiscal health gives, I think, the council and the community and the staff a shared vocabulary to talk about some concepts that we’ve discussed in the past, using terms like recurring revenues and recurring expenses,” Schroer said.

“But they also have some tools that allow maybe better recording than we have right now, or web-based sort of scenario analysis which we don’t do right now,” she said.

Schulze also noted the consultant will open the opportunity for public dialogue to identify the needs of the community, and it will provide added staff support at a time when the city is not only setting up a new process but also gathering data for next year’s budget.

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting is a Colorado-based organization. Its approach has received endorsement from the International City/County Management Association.

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.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Douglas County, Nevada Wins Good Governance Award through the Power of Priority Based Budgeting

We have a culture of leadership and high performance in Douglas County,” said County Manager Steve Mokrohisky. “This award is dedicated to the leadership of the Board, the hard work of our employees and the thoughtful engagement of our residents.”

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting wishes to congratulate Douglas County, NV for being awarded the Cashman Good Government Award for the County's innovative budget solutions. Per the Carson Valley Times article, "In 2012, Douglas County became the first county in the nation to implement Priority-Based Budgeting, which shifts the annual budget process from across the board allocations to investing in the community’s highest priorities. Priority Based Budgeting has since been adopted by the International City/County Management Association and the Alliance for Innovation as a leading practice in local government.

Douglas County has used the process over the past two years to balance a $3 million annual structural deficit, invest over $1 million annually in existing revenue to road maintenance, and increase its bond rating for the first time in ten years and the highest in history."

Douglas County, Nevada has been one of the most successful implementers, and now practitioners, of Priority Based Budgeting. In fact, they were the first county in the nation to implement Priority Based Budgeting. Douglas County has also 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 (see story here). Not only that, but the County's bond rating was affirmed as a result of their work. 

Another example of the County's success is how they prioritized spending to fund long-awaited transportation infrastructure needs with their shift to Priority Based Budgeting. See Douglas County newsletter article "Priority Budgeting Leads to $1 Million for Roads." Based on their progressive series of successes, the County was asked to present a case study at CPBB's "Summit of Leading Practices" conference held in July 2013. See the full Douglas County, NV slide presentation here.  

Douglas County Manager Steve Mokrohisky has been integral to the success of the County he serves. Through his leadership, Douglas County continues to innovate and prioritize spending to the benefit of the citizens of the community. Steve is frequently called upon by his peers to outline how Douglas County has achieved Fiscal Health and, due to a recent appearance on a regional local government panel discussion, is once again in the news. 

In an interview with The Record-Courier, Steve states, "I spoke on a panel with the Las Vegas City Manager about budget innovations in local government. Douglas County is the first county in the nation to implement Priority Based Budgeting and has had some early success in stabilizing our revenues and expenses through five year financial forecasting, engaging taxpayers in how limited resources should be spent, and shifting our budget process to focus on investing in the areas of highest priority to the community. 

The board’s action this year to shift over $1 million in property tax funds to road maintenance, as well as ending some lower priority programs, are good examples of how we can and should be spending tax dollars in a responsible and accountable fashion. We are now seeing other cities and counties around the country follow our lead. Placer County, Calif., and others have asked us to present our story to their leadership teams." Read the full interview here.

Congratulations again to Douglas County, Nevada, for using Priority Based Budgeting to achieve Fiscal Health and responsibly allocate scarce resources for the overall benefit of the community!

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.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Quest to Remake the Motor City

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB), we are huge proponents, advocates and supporters of local government and community innovation. We're in the business of assisting local government explore their role in successful economic development, understanding better where public sector investment could inspire a greater private sector contribution and better influence economic health (and clarifying the role of local government). We, like many, are specifically interested in the amazing array of creative resurgence occurring in the City of Detroit. We’re seeing Detroit recreating itself through technology innovation, community organization and partnerships, and by implementing many shared service concepts that we fiercely advocate.

The CPBB is a unique, creative group with the philosophy that Cities (and all communities) must do things differently if they are to survive. In particular, Cities must collaborate with their public sector, private sector and non-profit partners to strategically and creatively deliver services.

The CPBB was on the forefront of recognizing Detroit’s resurgence when we spent a week last summer in Detroit immersing ourselves in the trenches of critical local government issues, and went straight into perhaps the most interesting experiment in economic development we could imagine: the complete economic redevelopment of a City. As the national media focused on bankruptcy and blight, we overlooked this focus on negativity and turned our lens on what we saw as the building blocks that were being developed to position Detroit for success. Our investigation led to a series of focused articles that were very well received locally and nationally.

Our first article, focusing on the neighborhoods of the City of Detroit, Reversing the Trend: Might Corktown Hold the Key to a Greater Detroit Neighborhood Resurgence?, provided background context on the city's challenges and how entrepreneurship is playing a driving role in reshaping the downtown core and, slowly, the inner city neighborhoods. Our second article, Detroit: Bankrupt, but Not Broken, cast a spotlight on city governance through an interview with Nolan Finely of the Detroit Free Press. Our third article, Opportunity Detroit! Future City USA?, focused on Detroit's burgeoning entrepreneurial start-up and tech sector, and how this explosion of new business development is having a transformative effect on the city. 

When most folks think of Detroit, they typically think of bankruptcy, thousands of abandoned homes
and structures, a shrinking city and/or a city in an unavoidable spiral of decline and mayhem. At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, we see a city bursting with a strong sense of civic pride and very possibly entering a period of significant redevelopment, economic resurgence and endless opportunities for the city and its public/private partners to improve services. We see a city on the verge of joining the Metropolitan Revolution!

To find out exactly what is happening in Detroit, we'll be on the ground for the next month (March 13th through April 12th). We'll be walking neighborhoods, the downtown core (Midtown), interviewing prominent civic leaders, talking to independent business owners, drinking coffee with the new wave of urban pioneers leaving cities like Brooklyn and Portland to relocate to Detroit, cheering the Detroit Red Wings to (hopefully) a playoff berth, attending the Detroit Tigers opening day game and assessing public/private partnerships to better understand what is motivating these opportunities and a possible Detroit resurgence.

We'll also be focusing on the surge of partner and independent services that are occurring as another major research opportunity. We want to find out for ourselves how these models work, are they successful, is there collaboration between the City and non-profit/private sectors, where more successful initiatives can be gained and what is on the horizon. We’ll be following up with many folks we initially interviewed last Fall while simultaneously reaching out to others who are committed to their community.

We’ve also teamed up with the Michigan Municipal League to get a better sense of how local government communities across the state are weathering the economy and to discover all the innovative practices they've implemented. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting is proud to partner with the Michigan Municipal League for a full-day presentation in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 9th. We'll be presenting Achieving Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting. Register here.

We'll be posting updates on our blog and live tweeting as we gain a better understanding of just what's happening in Detroit (and beyond)! Be sure to follow the CPBB investigation into one of the most unique and relevant local government issues facing the nation today!

Detroit clearly has a long way to go and we want to follow this unique "urban experiment" as close as possible. And get involved in any way that we can! Since our last visit, Detroit has elected a new Mayor, a new City Council and has been pushing bankruptcy proceedings through the courts. We now want to follow up on what we previously observed and better understand what more has been accomplished in support of Detroit’s continued resurgence. 

We have historic ties to Detroit. CPBB Co-founder Chris Fabian and Chief Creative Officer Erik Fabian were both born in Berkley. Our father worked at SE Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturer's Association in Detroit for many years before moving the family to Denver in the mid-80's. Our Grandma worked for Detroit Elevator for 23 years before passing in Royal Oak in November 2012. We still have other family and friends in Royal Oak, Farmington Hills and Detroit and always make a point of staying abreast of current trends in our native State.

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting prides itself on developing and staying ahead of the latest innovative, creative and effective local government trends across the country. Lately these include:
And now we will be hitting the streets of Detroit in an effort to understand and identify what this city is doing to recover from bankruptcy, decades of political corruption and inefficient government service delivery. The lessons learned will be interesting, and possibly ground-breaking, as Detroit identifies how to thrive once again in this "New Wave" of Local Government

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

Follow Us on FacebookFollow Us on Google+Follow Us on TwitterFollow Us on LinkedInFollow Us on RSS

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.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Priority Based Budgeting - Innovation and Implementation Beyond Cities and Counties

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB), we're proud of our work assisting dozens of
cities and counties across North America fundamentally change their approach to resource alignment through Priority Based Budgeting (PBB). PBB contributes to a communities long-term financial sustainability and allows communities to better serve their residents in the most effective, efficient and fiscally responsible manner possible. The City of Boulder, Colorado recently stated that "priority based budgeting is the "framework" in which all budget decisions are made."

We developed Priority-Based Budgeting in 2009 due to the very fact that nothing else existed within local government public finance that truly is scalable, transferable and effective. And our work in assisting over 60 city and county local government communities, of different geographies, demographics and economies, across the US and Canada, successfully implement this best and leading practice substantiates the demise of the myth that little can be replicated across local government communities.

What excites us so much now is discovering how truly scalable, transferable and effective priority based budgeting can be not only for cities and counties, but beyond! Local government is not specifically confined to cities and counties, but also represents school districts, utility districts, fire districts, special districts and a variety of public authorities, boards and commissions. There are over 50,000 of these "special districts" across the US which are using public dollars to provide some level of public service. And now this sector of local government is also discovering the power of priority based budgeting!

Mountain View Fire Rescue (MVFR), a fire protection district based out of Longmont, Colorado, is the latest "special district" to successfully implement priority based budgeting. MVFR is a full service fire department tasked with the "care and safety of 50,000 permanent residents and a commuting population of more than 60,000 daily. The district has seven fire stations located strategically throughout its 184-square-mile district."

MVFR has recently published an article on how they've successfully implemented priority based budgeting. MVFR states, "Over the past year MVFR has worked with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPPB) to offer a clearer, more transparent picture of our Organization’s fiscal health.  MVFR is the first independent Fire District in North America that has taken the steps to examine our financial health from a new angle to ensure we are providing the utmost transparency to our citizens.

The CPPB has provided us with the tools and techniques needed to assess and monitor the District’s picture of fiscal health.  They have assisted MVFR in clearly defining 5 goals and objectives that lead to a process that prioritizes spending to align with these goals. 

MVFR has always placed a strong emphasis on superior financial management and we are prudent with taxpayer’s dollars.  Using Priority Based Budgeting gives us another set of tools to bring more transparency to our business and assist us with analyzing and improving on the financial health for the MVFR District." To read the full article and see a larger image of the above graphic click here
Priority Based Budgeting is a unique and innovative approach being used by local governments across the Country to match available resources with community priorities, provide information to elected officials that lead to better informed decisions, meaningfully engage citizens in the budgeting process and, finally, escape the traditional routine of basing "new" budgets on revisions to the "old" budget.  This holistic approach helps to provide elected officials and other decision-makers with a "new lens" through which to frame better-informed financial and budgeting decisions and helps ensure that a community is able to identify and preserve those programs and services that are most highly valued.  

The underlying philosophy of priority based budgeting is about how a government entity should invest resources to meet its stated objectives. It helps us to better articulate why the services we offer exist, what price we pay for them, and, consequently, what value they offer citizens. The principles associated with this philosophy of priority based budgeting are:

• Prioritize Services. Priority based budgeting evaluates the relative importance of individual programs and services rather than entire departments. It is distinguished by prioritizing the services a government provides, one versus another.

• Do the Important Things Well. Cut Back on the Rest. In a time of revenue decline, a traditional budget process often attempts to continue funding all the same programs it funded last year, albeit at a reduced level (e.g. across-the-board budget cuts). Priority based budgeting identifies the services that offer the highest value and continues to provide funding for them, while reducing service levels, divesting, or potentially eliminating lower value services.

• Question Past Patterns of Spending. An incremental budget process doesn’t seriously question the spending decisions made in years past. Priority based budgeting puts all the money on the table to encourage more creative conversations about services.

• Spend Within the Organization’s Means. Priority based budgeting starts with the revenue available to the government, rather than last year’s expenditures, as the basis for decision making.

• Know the True Cost of Doing Business. Focusing on the full costs of programs ensures that funding decisions are based on the true cost of providing a service.

• Provide Transparency of Community Priorities. When budget decisions are based on a well-defined set of community priorities, the government’s aims are not left open to interpretation.

• Provide Transparency of Service Impact. In traditional budgets, it is often not entirely clear how funded services make a real difference in the lives of citizens. Under priority based budgeting, the focus is on the results the service produces for achieving community priorities.

• Demand Accountability for Results. Traditional budgets focus on accountability for staying within spending limits. Beyond this, priority based budgeting demands accountability for results that were the basis for a service’s budget allocation.

Priority Based Budgeting has now been successfully implemented in over 60 local government
communities coast-to-coast. We take pride in our partnership with these CPBB communities in an effort to improve a community's fiscal health for the benefit of the entire community. 

The core CPBB concepts of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting are truly inspiring a new wave of municipal fiscal stewardship. A complete revolution in how local governments utilize their limited resources to the benefit of the communities they serve. 

This "New Wave," the fundamental paradigm shift in municipal financial stewardship, must be accepted if local governments are to be financially viable and able to create the types of communities their citizens are proud to call home.

Local government communities must consider a completely different perspective. In order to achieve success and accept the challenges that are ahead, we must see more clearly how to manage, use, and optimize resources in a much different way than has been done in the past.  

This new environment demands a new (economic) vision of the future. And that vision is created through priority based budgeting.
Congratulations to Mountain View Fire District for joining the "new wave" through their successful implementation 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!

Follow Us on FacebookFollow Us on Google+Follow Us on TwitterFollow Us on LinkedInFollow Us on RSS

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.