Budgeting to Reach Our Goals

GOAL:

Work with the city administration to ensure that our budget maximizes every public dollar spent by building into our budget clearly defined goals for continually improving public services and investing in the common good.

In our own personal budgets, we spend money on what we value. We decide what our household goals are, and we budget to meet those goals. Our city budget should be no different. We should have a clear idea of our city’s goals and what we need to do in order to reach them, not just give them lip service.

Yet right now, we don’t. Our city budget, though balanced, does not begin with a clear vision of who we are as a city. We don’t clarify goals for how we want to invest in our city, our people, our businesses, and our environment. We don’t make sure that we are actualizing through our policies and practices what we say we stand for.

When we transition our budget process to focus on outcomes and then spend accordingly, we will improve and strengthen those services that are most important to our citizens and demonstrate the results we are working toward. It will help us get the most value out of every public dollar we spend and enable us to be more resilient when economic downturns strike.

While the budget-creation process is the responsibility of the mayor’s office (and I will encourage our incoming mayor to transition to Outcome Budgeting), each year’s budget must be approved by City Council. This means that council members have a responsibility to study each proposed budget closely and to question what our city can expect to see as a result of the proposed spending.

How I Will Improve Our Budgeting Process to Reach Our Goals

I will work with the rest of council and the mayor to:

  • clarify a set of desired outcomes—including metrics for determining success—for our city’s services and projects,
  • scrutinize each budget to ensure that we that we fund services and projects to meet our goals while also staying within revenue forecasts for the coming fiscal year, and
  • hold our administration accountable year-over-year for demonstrating progress toward meeting our goals and modifying future budgets as needed.