We’ve seen how budgeting based on priorities can free up millions of dollars, lead to new partnership opportunities and simply make the budgeting process easier for municipalities. And while that all sounds well and good, getting staff and community buy-in for a whole new system of budgeting is a daunting challenge (to say the least). We recently spoke to a room full of local government finance experts at the ResourceX Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) Summit. They revealed five applicable ways to help bring stakeholders, staff and residents all onto the same PBB boat.
“To get this program to be successful you have to sell the potential. You have to convince people of the awesomeness of the tool and of all the different things you can do with it. You have to understand what it is, what it can do to take your municipality toward the future, and say, ‘Here’s where we’re going, here’s how we’re going to get there, and this tool is going to show us how to do it.’ If you sell it that way and build that level of excitement, I think it will do OK.” – Mike Nieft, Budget Analyst, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
2. Get the community involved.
“Our city manager is implementing employee surveys and we hope to branch out to citizens [to know] what they want and what they want to see. I think that the citizen surveys are going to help us a whole lot to begin the process. That’s going to be very important to even get started with PBB. This is definitely something I want to get everybody in my city engaged in.” – Monica Garcia, Finance Director and City Treasurer, Roswell, New Mexico
3. Invest in implementation.
“The better the implementation team is, the better the staff buy-in is. Sometimes when people are tasked with implementing PBB, they don’t have any support, and it becomes a little bit more difficult.” - Stuart McEwen, Support Specialist, Resource X
4. Make it Real.
“You have to translate PBB into real-life, home economic situations. For instance, I have this much for my mortgage, I have this much for my bills, this much for my vacation, this much for my tires - and I have to think about prioritizing it all. This will help staff and residents make sense of it, and translating the institution from its separate little kingdoms helps in breaking down those silos to get that whole team concept.” – Jay Bohachyk, Acting Manager of Financial Planning, Strathcona County, Canada
5. Use it as a tool, not a weapon.
“My favorite quote from Englewood, CO City Manager Eric Keck was ‘This is a tool and not a weapon.’ I think that when looking at budgeting tools, people automatically assume that you are going to go and cut programs, people and funding. But in truth, it’s not a weapon to try and force people into compliance. I think we can better communicate that PBB is just another tool in the toolbox, helping us be more efficient to deliver excellent service to our community.” – Santina Reichow, Senior Budget Analyst, Rio Rancho New Mexico