"Traditional budgeting at the municipal level has taken the form of zero-based (starting with a blank slate every year), to results-oriented, to incremental. But is there a better, more data-driven approach municipalities can use? There is, and Strathcona County is on it — Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB)."
Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada, has been leading the way in priority based business planning and budgeting. As the first municipality in Canada to implement online PBB, this has resulted in Strathcona County being more proactive, strategic and effective in program and service delivery.
Strathcona County’s PBB budget process provides a tool for allocating resources within a broader and all encompassing Strategic Plan and Business Planning framework. This is the most comprehensive integration of PBB within a policy-guiding Strategic Plan, and a Business Plan designed to drive organizational excellence.
Priority based business planning and budgeting provides valuable information that supports decision-making by directors and managers, enabling them to allocate or reallocate resources, based on each program or resource request’s alignment to strategic and corporate priorities. It can also be used by the organization to set targets and determine how resources are aligned, based on priorities.
PBB is a resource allocation tool that depends on strong policy vision and direction, and a mechanism to infuse policy into operations – Strathcona County’s implementation has set the bar at new heights in this regard.
Video overview + interviews of PBB business planning
and budgeting in Strathcona County.
Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank recently wrote a column (Moneyball: Finding a better way to do municipal budgets) published by the Sherwood Park News.
Mayor Frank writes, "Traditional budgeting at the municipal level has taken the form of zero-based (starting with a blank slate every year), to results-oriented, to incremental. But is there a better, more data-driven approach municipalities can use?
There is, and Strathcona County is on it — Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB)."
Priority Based Budgeting
1) Determine priorities. Decide on what your community truly values and push limited resources in that direction.
Our council has prioritized eight strategic goals including a strong and diverse community, sustainable municipal infrastructure and economic diversification. Find priority-based budgeting on strathcona.ca and visit strathcona.ca/strategicplan to see the details of our strategic plan.
As well, this year council will take into account COVID-19’s impact on municipal needs.
2) Programs. Organize all municipal services into programs, not departments or physical structures.
Strathcona County has detailed all service offerings, from a citizen perspective, into over 50 relevant, effective and efficient program baskets. This includes everything from property valuation and snow clearing, to building mental health capacity for citizens and business planning.
3) What is the relative worth or importance of a program? How does it fulfill the community’s goals? Is it a mandated program? Who is it serving? Can others provide it better?
4) Allocate and maximize value. Time to make the tough decisions. Resources and your tax dollars are limited, and one can’t be all things to all people. Look at community goals, and prioritize the most valued and relevant programs. Then drop, re-allocate and start up as necessary.
Money-balling Budget 2021
"Gone are the days where we simply balanced a budget without examining value, or clumsily hacked off a program (good-bye swimming pool) to “make zero.” PBB demands that we work hard to rank and make informed decisions.
This method has delivered; the citizen satisfaction rate in our community is over 87 percent.
This year, COVID-19, a battered economy and provincial restraint have conspired to make this an age for the record books — and budget ’21 will challenge us to recognize that.
The tax dollar well only goes so deep, and your money needs to be spent where there is the most relevance. I will lead by focusing on value and having the courage to make tough decisions. PBB is one important tool to use.
I will centre on our goals and vision, fiscal responsibility, quality municipal services and competitive taxes to keep our citizen satisfaction at high levels and meet the needs of Strathcona County.
I’m looking forward to a little moneyball."
Congratulations to Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and Team Strathcona County for their award winning priority based budgeting work. We look forward to your continued "moneyball" approach to priority based budgeting business planning and budgeting!