Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Douglas County, NV Continues its Nationally Recognized Practice of Priority Based Budgeting

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.

And now Douglas County has done it again! Through their innovative Manage the County’s Checkbook” online exercise in November 2014, "120 residents participated in the budget challenge, a slight increase over the 115 who participated the prior year."

Per the Record-Courier's article, Residents: Infrastructure top priority, "fewer residents did the long version of the challenge this time than in the past three years, with only 54 tackling the detailed budget challenge. That’s down from 72 in 2013 and 63 in 2012. 

However, nearly half the residents participated in the challenge for the first time. Three-quarters of residents said they were satisfied with the online challenge. 

In comparison, the county budget hearings are notoriously poorly attended with two or three noncounty employees participating in the public process.

The exercise conducted in November 2014 to collect public input on budget priorities was reviewed and considered in the development of the strategic goals. 

The results were presented to commissioners by the Douglas County Finance Department. 

“We were pleased with receiving an increase in participation by our citizens,” said Christine Vuletich, chief financial officer and assistant county manager. “We do value the opinions of the citizens and the information is passed on to the Commission to help with prioritizing.” 

The county’s strategic goals were modified with an emphasis on infrastructure and the addition of the countywide connectivity project, advocating for the educational assets of the county including the public library and local colleges, initiation of a countywide recycling program, and the addition of a new category called “organizational sustainability. 

With priorities and goals set in place, the county is now moving into developing the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Douglas County will continue with its nationally recognized practice of priority based budgeting. 

“The commission did take the results from ‘Manage the County’s Checkbook’ and what was voiced by the citizens into account,” said Commission Chairman Doug N. Johnson. “The commission values this process and it is great that we have an interactive venue to collect public input and engage them in part of this process.” 

Results from Manage the County’s Checkbook and the newest version of the Strategic Goals 2015-2016 can be found at www.douglascountynv.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3612

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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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