Thursday, March 26, 2015

First County Government in Wisconsin to Launch Priority Based Budgeting


"Priority based budgeting is something that we believe will greatly benefit our County for the next decade - County Administrator Joshua Schoemann  

"To see Washington County take the lead in Wisconsin is a true mark of their leadership, their dedication to financial transparency and accountability to their citizens, and to optimizing their approach to allocating their precious resources to the outcomes that matter most and impact their community to the highest degree,” notes CPBB Co-Founder Chris Fabian.


Congratulations Washington County, WI! The CPBB looks forward to partnering with your community! 


See the full press release below.

     
First County Government in Wisconsin to Launch Priority Based Budgeting


Washington County will be among the first 100 local government entities nationwide and the first County government in the State of Wisconsin to implement priority based budgeting through the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, a firm dedicated to helping local governments address fiscal realities in an entirely new way.  The County Board approved the program at its March 9th meeting. 

Priority based budgeting will provide a comprehensive review of the entire County organization by  identifying every program offered, the costs of those programs, and the relevance of those programs on the basis of the County Board's priorities. 

While the process is new for the County, the direction is not.  The County Board has been very consistent in their desire to apply business principles to county government: reduce County debt, reduce the tax levy, and take a more measured approach to how we fund county government.  The 2015 budget, the County’s first budget by an administrator, realized all of the goals set by the County Board.  Taxpayers saw debt reduced by $501,985 and the largest reduction in the property tax levy in the history of Washington County.  Priority based budgeting is an effort to continue this focus in the future. 

“Priority based budgeting is something that we believe will greatly benefit our County for the next decade,” said County Administrator Joshua Schoemann.  “We are an arm of the State and many of the services that we provide are mandated from other levels of government.  How we achieve or exceed these mandates is a matter of policy priority and this process will allow us to have these discussions.”

The objective of priority based budgeting is to make sure all tax dollars are being used to accomplish the programs that are important to the County.  The first step of the process will include working with staff and the County Board to identify results. The program rates the priority of every County program based on the results determined during the first step of the process.  The process concludes by evaluating the lowest priority programs and the tax dollars that are allocated to those programs. 

“To see Washington County take the lead in Wisconsin is a true mark of their leadership, their dedication to financial transparency and accountability to their citizens, and to optimizing their approach to allocating their precious resources to the outcomes that matter most and impact their community to the highest degree,” noted the media release from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting.

Agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s began accounting for Priority Based Budgeting in their evaluation of a community’s credit worthiness and  professional associations such as the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Alliance for Innovation have declared Priority Based Budgeting a Leading Practice that all local governments should implement.

To learn more about Priority Based Budgeting, visit www.pbbcenter.org  



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.

 


   

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 www.ImagineKalamazoo.com , 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 www.ImagineKalamazoo.com 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!

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.

 



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fiscal Health Fuels Town of Garner, NC "AA+" Credit Rating



The Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) is a proud partner with the Town of Garner, NC. The Town was one of the first communities we worked with in North Carolina

CPBB partnered with Garner during the Town's 2013-2014 fiscal year. During this time,
CPBB assisted the Town in successfully implementing Fiscal Health through the Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool.

The Town of Garner's prudent work in instituting strong fiscal policy and practices has paid off in multiple ways. One of these ways is in the form of a strong credit rating.

According to a recent Town of Garner News Release (Credit Rating Affirms Garner's Economic Strength), "Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has assigned it's "AA+" credit rating to the Town of Garner's 2015 general obligation (GO) bonds and affirmed that same rating to the Town's outstanding GO bonds. S&P also said the Town's outlook is stable.

S&P said its rating reflected the Town's strengths in numerous areas including 1) budget flexibility, with reserves in excess of 75% of general fund reserves; 2) budgetary performance, with surpluses in each of the past three fiscal years and 3) liquidity, with very strong cash to cover debt service and expenditures. S&P also cited the Town's "good financial policies" and "very strong institutional framework."

"We are very happy with S&P's most recent credit rating," Town Manager Hardin Watkins said. "Great things are happening in Garner, and it is refreshing to see external analysts confirm and acknowledge the hard work done by our outstanding elected officials and staff team."

At the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, we've been extremely interested for some time in how credit rating agencies (CRA's) would evaluate the Fiscal Health and Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) efforts of the communities we're working with. Our core concepts of fiscal health and priority based budgeting have proven to ensure that local governments are clear and transparent about what truly is their economic reality. Communicating that picture simply, clearly, and understandably without volumes of numbers, spreadsheets, tables, and an endless series of charts is frankly a challenge that has plagued managers for years. If managers are going to be able to demonstrate financial reality internally to elected officials and staff, and externally to CRA's and residents, they have to find better ways to make fiscal situations understandable and transparent to everyone.


Finding creative, clear, and nontechnical ways to demonstrate what the next five to 10 years might look like is a must if people are going to address fiscal concerns. All too often, local governments are unable to make sound, timely decisions regarding investing in new resources, starting new programs, or initiating major capital projects because elected officials, local government managers, and staff members are paralyzed by the uncertainty of whether they actually have enough money to appropriate for these purposes. Developing a long-term financial forecast is key to gaining a better understanding of what the future might hold. 

How CRA's assess municipal bond ratings for a community has a tremendous impact on the communities ability to borrow. A municipal bond is a bond issued by a local government, or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bonds include states, cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, public utility districts, publicly owned airports and seaports, and any other governmental entity (or group of governments) at or below the state level. Municipal bonds may be general obligations of the issuer or secured by specified revenues.


Municipal bonds are securities that are issued for the purpose of financing the infrastructure needs of the issuing municipality. These needs vary greatly but can include schools, streets and highways, bridges, hospitals, public housing, sewer and water systems, power utilities, and various public projects. 

Communities are seeking every possible means to prevent downgrades in their ratings (and simultaneously increase ratings). And the credit rating agencies are facing immense pressure to substantiate the ratings they report - strong or weak. We've been keeping a close eye on this as we better understand how the CRA's perceive how fiscal health and priority based budgeting can provide evidence that a community is taking a sustainable and responsible approach to resource allocation, basing decisions on the long-term health of the community in light of its values and priorities. Click here for more on credit rating CPBB case studies.

The CPBB congratulates the Town of Garner's leadership and staff for their excellent work! Way to go Garner!

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.

 

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


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.

 



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Join CPBB in Disrupting the "New Normal" at the NLC Congressional Cities Conference!


"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 National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference will showcase the disruptive ways cities are driving change and finding successful solutions to the most pressing challenges in local government. Thousands of innovative local government leaders from around the nation attend NLC's annual conference every year. We at the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) couldn't be more excited to attend, participate and present at this powerful event!




The Center for Priority Based Budgeting has two workshops at the Congressional City Conference
specifically designed to assist elected officials and senior staff disrupt the "new normal" through the power of 
fiscal health and priority based budgeting.


Co-founders Chris Fabian and Jon Johnson, in addition to CPBB Senior Advisor Kathie Novak (a former long-term Council member, former two-term Mayor of the City of Northglenn, Colorado, and former President of the National League of Cities), will be presenting Priority Based Budgeting Basics and Role of the Elected Official in the Budgeting Process workshops.


On Saturday, March 7th from 9 AM to noon we'll be presenting:

Priority Based Budgeting Basics  

“The budget is the single most important policy document a local government adopts.” How many times have elected officials heard this statement, and how many elected officials actually believe that this is the case? Learn about the breakthrough in budgeting, Priority Based Budgeting (through Fiscal Health and Wellness), an innovative, transparent and proven approach that creates a new and “unique lens” through which elected officials, managers, staff and ultimately constituents can truly see the impacts of their decisions on allocated resources in a way that achieves what the community wants, expects and desires.


Also on Saturday, March 7th from 1:30 to 4:30 PM we'll be presenting: 

Role of the Elected Official in the Budgeting Process  

Can you imagine having “agreement” among your elected officials, your organization and citizens as to which of the services you provide are of the “highest priority,” which programs are perfect for partnerships, shared services, out- or even in-sourcing? Learn about the methodology and tools that over 80+ communities across the US and Canada have successfully implemented to address these very questions. 

Elected officials will also learn about the data visualization of Fiscal Health modeling – the visual portrayal of complex financial and economic data sets, has proven to be a unifying construct, a “Rosetta-Stone” to bring all of our stakeholders (elected officials, administration, staff and citizens alike) to see things from the same perspective. 


Be sure to follow @theCPBB and #NLCDC for live tweet action throughout the conference!


Register for these innovative workshops here


For your convenience, we're also available for private meetings to more comprehensively discuss and explore how the CPBB may best be able to assist your local government community. To schedule a one-on-one meeting, contact Chris Fabian via e-mail or by phone/text at 303.520.1356.

We look forward to seeing you and discussing all the creative and innovative concepts so many local government communities are implementing across the country! 


Disrupting the "New Normal"

Local governments continue to face previously unknown financial and political pressures as they struggle to develop meaningful and fiscally prudent budgets.  Revenues are at best stable (or even declining), while demand for services continues to increase.  Citizens believe that government budgets are "fat" and that there is ample waste to "cut".  Civic leaders more often than not focus on "across the board" cuts that spreads the pain equally - but also encourages mediocrity rather than excellence. 

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.

Priority Based Budgeting has now been successfully implemented in over 80 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!

And don't forget! The Priority Based Budgeting Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool is going web-based!  We've already built the basic model, but are now invited leading local government priority based budgeting implementers to assist us in crafting the final product. With the launch of this powerful new public finance technology tool, we now have 10 communities already signed up to define the future of on-line local government budgeting! If your community is interested in contributing to the final development of this disruptive new tool, and being among the first to utilize on-line priority based budgeting, contact us!

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.

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The "New Normal." What the CBO's Recent Sobering Forecast Means for Local Government


"The Congressional Budget Office expects the economy to grow at an even slower rate than it has in the past." 


"Get comfortable because the nation's economic output won't pick up any time soon. "

 

In a recent article in Governing, What the CBO’s Latest Predictions Mean for States and Localities, author Liz Farmer states, "For those who have wondered whether we've reached a "new normal," or whether these years of slow economic growth are just a blip on the radar, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has officially called it. Its new economic and budget outlook contains a sobering prognosis: Get comfortable because the nation's economic output won't pick up any time soon."

She goes on to write, "The recent CBO report anticipates that output will grow slower than it has in the past..... State budgets have reflected that weakness. Accounting for inflation, this fiscal year's total general fund spending of $748 billion is still 2 percent below the pre-recession peak, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). Even not accounting for inflation, this year's 3.1 percent spending increase over 2014 is far below the 5.5 percent year-over-year average recorded over the 37 years NASBO has been conducting its budget survey.

So what does all this mean for state and local governments as the 114th session of Congress kicks
off? It places a higher priority than ever on states to ensure their own financial sustainability. "Clearly the federal government will be less responsible for things at the state and local level," said Matt Fabian, a partner at the research firm Municipal Market Analytics. "The policy stage is shifting toward the states and that's where the meaningful work gets done."

Additionally, Watchdog.org recently published another piece on the CBO report titled, State, local governments face massive, growing budget gaps in 2015 and beyond. Author Eric Boehm states, "As the calendar flips to 2015, fiscal pressures will continue to tax the budgets of state and local governments.

Projections released this month by the Government Accountability Office show that state and local governments will see current gaps between revenues and expenditures continue to widen in 2015 and beyond. In aggregate, those governments are already underwater, and the amount of red ink will continue to grow over the next 50 years, unless changes are made, the GAO says.

Closing the gap will require aggregate budget cuts or tax increases of 18 percent."

Source: Government Accountability Office

We calculated that closing the fiscal gap would require action to be taken today and maintained for each year equivalent to an 18 percent reduction in the state and local government sector’s current expenditures. Closing the fiscal gap through revenue increases would require action of similar magnitude through increases in state and local tax revenues,” the GAO found. “More likely, closing the fiscal gap would involve some combination of both expenditure reductions and revenue increases.”

"Translation: governments will continue to stare down the question of cutting budgets or raising taxes."

Disrupting the "New Normal"


But are governments budget options strictly limited to cutting budgets or raising taxes? While we at the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) agree that tax increases are the default mechanism for revenue increases and across-the-board budget cuts are, for some mystifying reason, still the scalpel of choice for many communities, examples abound of innovative and proactive cities and counties who are implementing much more strategic and proactive budgeting methods.

What assumptions do we hold so firmly and that so calcify our thinking to convince us that changing fiscal conditions represent our crisis? Would higher revenues and lower expenses allow us to operate crisis free? Or does the true crisis exist when, despite our fiscal realities, we don’t focus on those priorities and objectives that ensure the success of our communities?"

Perhaps the biggest concern we face is not a fiscal crisis. Fiscal trends and conditions are by and large out of our control and simply represent a reality with which we need to cope. The real crisis on our hands is whether our organizations have the capabilities to address current fiscal realities and still meet the objectives of government and the expectations of our constituents.

We recently reported on how the City of Boulder, Colorado, has successfully implemented priority based budgeting (PBB) into their budget process for their fifth straight fiscal year (High Five to Boulder, CO)! The city adopted PBB in 2010. During this time, the city has become a "leading practitioner" of PBB and utilizes this process in all of their short and long-term financial decisions. Per Boulder's Annual Budget Policy Document, "Now integrated into its fifth consecutive year of budget development, Priority Based Budgeting is "the cornerstone of the city's budget process," and "the framework within which all budget decisions are made."

Another example of a local government community addressing fiscal challenges head on is the City of Bainbridge Island, WA (Long-Term Financial Sustainability through Priority Based Budgeting in the City of Bainbridge Island, WA). Per the City, "Priority Based Budgeting helps the community and city employees understand the City’s use of its limited resources. This method of budgeting contributes to the city’s long-term financial sustainability by encouraging explicit choices. These choices help the City develop a strategic budget that reflects our community values and ensures a high level of city service to residents." Click here to read the full case study

We also have the Town of Christiansburg, VA (A Unique Approach to Budgeting). Per the Town's website, "Since late 2010, the Town of Christiansburg has been working with the Center for Priority-Based Budgeting, based in Denver, CO, on a radically different budget process that evaluates and prioritizes the programs and services provided by the town. Like so many other municipalities across the country, Christiansburg enjoyed many years of prosperous economic conditions. Most capital projects were paid for in-full and residents have long enjoyed a relatively low real estate tax rate for decades. However, the economic downturn of the past few years had a significant impact on revenues and the town found itself in a budget deficit situation.

When faced with a budget deficit, the common approach in many localities is to take “emergency-room measures,” such as across-the-board cuts, pushing back replacement schedules for vehicles and construction equipment, or implementing furlough days or even layoffs. These steps, while effective in cutting spending in the short-term, can have long-term implications on a town’s ability to provide the level and type of service citizens desire."
 

Local governments continue to face previously unknown financial and political pressures as they struggle to develop meaningful and fiscally prudent budgets.  Revenues are at best stable (or even declining), while demand for services continues to increase.  Citizens believe that government budgets are "fat" and that there is ample waste to "cut".  Civic leaders more often than not focus on "across the board" cuts that spreads the pain equally - but also encourages mediocrity rather than excellence. 

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 80 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.
And don't forget! The Priority Based Budgeting Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool is going web-based!  We've already built the basic model, but are now invited leading local government priority based budgeting implementers to assist us in crafting the final product. With the launch of this powerful new public finance technology tool, we now have 10 communities already signed up to define the future of on-line local government budgeting! If your community is interested in contributing to the final development of this disruptive new tool, and being among the first to utilize on-line priority based budgeting, contact us!

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.