Wednesday, February 4, 2015

City of Longmont, CO Prioritizes 1,244 City Services in a Detailed, Data-Driven Way

"Priority based budgeting is a process and a set of tools that can really help communities and elected officials change the way they talk about making financial decisions and how they achieve the results that the community is really looking for."

The City of Longmont, CO is now in their 3rd year of priority based budgeting. In April 2013, the City began implementing priority based budgeting into their budgeting process.

As we've recently reported, City staff and elected officials have made great strides in identifying the results the community wishes to achieve and linking city services to those results. The evolution of Longmont's PBB focused budgeting process continues.

Today, the Longmont Times-Call reported on how priority based budgeting is transforming the City's approach to evaluating city services. In the article, Longmont staff using budget software to rank city services, staff writer Karen Antonacci documents the power of CPBB's priority based budgeting software. In particular, this innovative budgeting software has allowed Council a more transparent way to establish and evaluate the budget in relation to the ranking of city services.

Longmont staff using budget software to rank city services

In setting budget priorities for 2016, the city of Longmont is going to be leaning more on a tool that ranks city services in a detailed, data-driven way.

The budgeting software, created by the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, was used in June in the
budget process for 2015, but now the city will use it more this year for the 2016 budgeting process and work toward getting the data online in the coming months.

The software ranks each of the 1,244 city services (everything from Main Street banners to the hazardous materials response) into four quartiles, with the fourth quartile being most important to the city and the first being the least important.

To group the programs into those quartiles, the software evaluates them on four attributes: how required the city is to provide a program, the reliance on a program, the cost and how much of the community is served by a program.

Golden presented Tuesday about the first attribute - what level of mandate the city has to provide a service. The Department of Public Safety had the most services that are required by a federal, state or county mandate while the Community Services department has the most services that are not required in writing and aren't published anywhere as best practices.

City Manager Harold Dominguez said one use for the software would be to evaluate one-time funding requests for 2016's budget. He used community solar gardens as an example, which a Fort Collins resident asked the council to consider during Tuesday's public invited to be heard portion.

"If the council wanted to consider this, we could put it into this formula and it would show us how it was ranked with all the pieces and we would see it fall into one of these categories." Dominguez said.

City Council members expressed gratitude to Golden for the detailed data on the 1,244 city programs.

"I'm going to read this over pancakes in the morning for the next couple of weeks," Mayor Pro Tem Brian Bagley said, holding up the 57-page printout of the rankings.

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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.


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