Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Defining the Future of your Community! Civic Engagement through Priority Based Budgeting

"By participating in Priority Based Budgeting, community members will have direct influence on determining the overall priority and relevance of the city's programs."

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB), we're constantly impressed and amazed at just how innovative local government communities can be. Through our concepts of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting, we've partnered with communities to define exactly what the community is in business to achieve and then prioritize scarce resources (tax dollars) to meet those community results. This work has allowed nearly 100 cities, counties, school districts and special districts to completely redefine their community.

When implementing the priority based budgeting (PBB) process, civic leaders have the option of engaging residents in an effort to define the results the community wishes to achieve.... or not. The citizen engagement component to this process can be time consuming and challenging, but often lead to a more robust set of community results that are fully supported by the community residents.

Recently, we've seen two leading PBB communities roll out transparent and comprehensive citizen engagement platforms. These communities, one a city and one a county, vary immensely in geographic location, population, urban make-up and political climate. Yet, both are successfully implementing priority based budgeting and engaging their citizens in incredible and meaningful ways, proving once again how scalable and replicable the PBB process can be.

We recently reported on Douglas County, Nevada, 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."

But the County has not stopped there. In late 2014, Douglas County launched their innovative Manage the County’s Checkbook” online exercise. This is not the first year the County has implemented this exercise, and this year's public participation rivaled that of past years.

The City of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is also in the process of implementing priority based budgeting while engaging with citizens in an effort to collaboratively define the future of the community. This program, Imagine Kalamazoo, is the city's citizen engagement platform where citizens can weigh in and help define the future of Kalamazoo.

And citizens are excited about it! The Stuart Neighborhood Association is one group that is actively promoting participation in Imagine Kalamazoo. Here is how the Stuart Neighborhood Association describes their efforts:  We are excited to announce the launch of , a new website where the public can connect and collaborate with local decision makers and other residents on the future of our community.  Priority Based Budgeting is a featured topic for the Imagine Kalamazoo website in which community members will be asked to allocate $1000 towards the community results that are most important to them, describe what they love about this city and what they would like to see improved, and offer exciting big ideas to consider.

Your input is important!  By participating in Priority Based Budgeting, community members will have direct influence on determining the overall priority and relevance of the city's programs. Your "investment" of $1000 in the budget exercise helps the city realize which results are most important, and further guides the process of prioritizing the services offered by the city.  Following the initial budget exercise that will run through April, there will be additional on-line and in-person opportunities for input leading up to the development of the 2016 budget in the fall.

Please help us spread the word about with your community members and partners by forwarding this email, or by copying this link into an email of your own. If you do pass on this information, let us know how many people you contacted so we can keep track of our outreach numbers.

The City of Kalamazoo is excited to have you join in on the conversation! Please let us know if you would like to talk about Priority Based Budgeting at your next organizational meeting or have your group participate in the budget exercise, and we can follow-up with you to make it happen.

We are so thrilled to see PBB communities engage their citizens in creative and effective ways that lead to a fully supported set of community results. And we look forward to partnering with more communities providing unique examples of citizen engagement through priority based budgeting!

And mark your calendars! The Center for Priority Based Budgeting 2015 Annual Conference will be held in Denver, CO August 4-6 this year!

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.


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