The City of Battle Creek now has a visual representation of its 2015-2016 budget in the form of a Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool created with the help of the Denver-based Center for Priority Based Budgeting.
The city began the transition about a year ago to priority based budgeting in an effort to address our fiscal health and wellness. The City of Battle Creek is the second Michigan community to take on this new way of budgeting, which increases our accountability and transparency, and better communicates how resources are allocated through the budget process to achieve the community’s priorities, referred to as community results in the PBB model.
The CPBB’s Fiscal Health Model provides a visual tool to help facilitate budget discussions. It will allow city staff to create live scenarios that give elected officials an instant picture of the financial impacts of their decisions. The model allows for a clearer understanding and better communication on various budget scenarios.
The model can be used to help departments prioritize city programs, understand the impacts of those programs and better understand the ongoing and one-time funding sources involved.
The city’s new diagnostic tool was discussed and demonstrated during a City Commission workshop Thursday night and will become available later in the budget process.
To get to this point, city and CPBB staff worked together to develop the city’s “result maps,” which detail the factors that influence the way we achieve our results, or goals, as a city. Staff then created a program inventory for each department and assigned costs and values to each, which the CPBB used to develop our diagnostic tool.
Staff’s last step was to score each program against the community results and basic program attributes to help determine the program quartile, 1 through 4, with 1 being those programs most important to achieving the community results and 4 being less so. A healthy quartile map shows the majority of resources being allocated to quartile 1 and 2 programs. Battle Creek displays a very healthy pattern in resource allocation, but further analysis is required as we fully understand the information provided by the diagnostic tool.
The city’s identified programs – what we do – totaled 1,061, with 839 community programs and 222 governance programs. The City Commission and staff will review these programs and the cost to provide them as we move through the fiscal year 2017 budget process, currently under way.
“This is a great starting point,” said City Manager Rebecca Fleury. “This model provides a tremendous opportunity for the city to reevaluate and discuss the value of the programs on which we’re spending money, and how they can help us achieve the community results.”
Keep up with our priority based budgeting progress at our website, www.battlecreekmi.gov. Hover over I Want To… and, under Learn About, click Priority Based Budgeting. Also learn more about PBB by visiting www.pbbcenter.org.