Participation is key to developing City budget

The Five Year Financial Forecast, which was presented to the City Council on May 12, kicked-off the FY 2011 Budget process. For the FY 2011 Budget process, the City faces many of the same challenges we faced in FY 2010 – declining revenues and additional expenditure requests. In the FY 2010 Budget, we were able to overcome these challenges and adopt a budget that reduced expenditures by $19 million through efficiencies and a reduction in administrative overhead. The FY 2010 Budget focused on service priorities critical to the City’s local economic recovery and the commitment to provide high quality services to improve the lives of residents. With these focus areas and strong financial management strategies, the City has been able weather the economic storm and maintains a solid financial position for the development of the FY 2011 Budget.

The Budget Goal Setting Session was held on May 18 with the Mayor and City Council to obtain guidance from Council on City services and financial policies that guide the development of the budget. As a result of this meeting, the City Council supported the recommendations to 1) maintain the City’s Budgeted Financial reserves at 9% of General Fund appropriations, 2) allow some flexibility in achieving a two-year Balanced Budget in light of the current local economic conditions, and 3) maintain the City’s Property Tax Rate at the current level for FY 2011. Additionally, the results of the City Services Ballot were reviewed and Infrastructure and Public Safety emerged as top priorities.

With input and feedback from the Mayor and City Council, City staff has begun to prepare budget recommendations. In July, I will meet with City Departments to develop a balanced budget that reflects the Mayor and City Council’s policy guidelines and service priorities while maintaining a strong financial position. I will present the FY 2011 Proposed Operating and Capital Budget to the Mayor and City Council on August 12, 2010.

The City encourages residents and City employees to participate in the budget development process. City employees can be involved in the budget process in several different ways to include utilizing a Budget Input Box and the Frontline Focus Initiative. Employees can submit budget ideas and suggestions through the Budget Input Box available online and in paper format in English or Spanish. Input boxes also can be found at all City facilities to include libraries and Community Link Centers. The Frontline Focus Initiative will provide City staff the opportunity to identify process improvements for consideration during the development of the proposed Budget. Over the past three years, more than 500 employees in all departments have participated in the Frontline Focus process.

Following my FY 2011 Proposed Budget presentation in August, citizens can provide input on the budget at District Community Budget Hearings to be scheduled within each City Council District. Community and employee input is an important part in creating a budget that meets the needs of the residents and I look forward to hearing from citizens and employees throughout the development of the budget.

The FY 2011 proposed Budget will be considered by the Mayor and City Council for adoption on September 16. As we move forward to adopt a balanced budget, I encourage each of you to continue to provide your input on how we can work together to provide quality services to the community.

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