The Impacts and Outcomes of Repurposing Budget Dollars

"The Priority-Based Budgeting tool is a great resource to find the solutions
to guide our city forward into a financially successful future."

The City of Branson, MO has many success stories since first implementing priority-based budgeting in 2014. As of August 2019, the city was one of the first of five cities practicing PBB to reallocate and re-purpose over 10% of their budget dollars.

Branson has recently published their proposed 2021 budget. The city has experienced significant COVID related challenges in 2020. As a destination city, Branson has been significantly impacted by travel restrictions, and a massive reduction in tourism, resulting in a 36% reduction in sales tax and a 45% drop in tourism tax. Both sales & tourism tax revenues are not expected to return to pre-COVID (2019) levels until at least FY 2023.

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Yet with these massive reductions in revenue, Branson has continued to deliver high-level services and performed capital improvements, all while maintaining their established reserves. The city was able to accomplish this through their application of priority based budgeting and, more importantly, applying PBB data to reallocate and repurpose resources.

"Two ways that the City has made better use of funds is through reallocation/repurposing of resources and the creation of partnerships. The unprecedented impact of the global pandemic on local government budgets has resulted in cities making difficult financial decisions. The struggle to balance decreasing revenues and maintaining public services provides the perfect atmosphere to review ongoing programs and services."

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Beyond repurposing, Branson is a national leader in multiple applications of priority based budgeting. These include:

  • Priority Based Budgeting (p. 20 - 25)
  • Capital Budget Prioritization (p. 63 - 65) 
  • Mapping programs and spending to priority outcomes and results (p. 26 - 45)
  • Assessing and implementing strategic partnerships (p. 24)
  • Applying ResourceX Fiscal Health tool for fiscal forecasting and scenario planning (p. 12 - 19)

Branson is a success story of PBB repurposing. Learn more from the Branson 2021 proposed budget and below.

Repurposing in Branson, MO

Public budgeting has traditionally been incremental in nature - the last year's budget serves as the basis for the budget of the following year. This method, however, rarely supports the complex nature of funding government services.

Branson utilizes a priority-based budgeting (PBB) model because it provides a
comprehensive review of the entire organizations operating budget, identifying and ranking services (programs) offered on the basis of the community's priorities. The process enables the city to link funding decisions to priorities in the strategic plan. The city identifies "Results", which are the fundamental reason our organization exists and what we are in business to provide. Result definitions detail and expand on the factors influencing
the results our organization aims to achieve - and for which all services/programs would then be gauged by and ranked on.

The City has many success stories since first implementing priority-based budgeting in 2014. As of August 2019, the city was one of the first of five cities practicing PBB to reallocate and re-purpose over 10% of their budget dollars.

Two ways that the City has made better use of funds is through reallocation/repurposing of resources and the creation of partnerships. The unprecedented impact of the global pandemic on local government budgets has resulted in cities making difficult financial decisions. The struggle to balance decreasing revenues and maintaining public services provides the perfect atmosphere to review ongoing programs and services.

Global impact on local and regional economies means that local governments must adapt to changing patterns faster than ever before. In the case of the
pandemic, there is significant economic impact in the way of revenues (especially sales tax receipts) and rapidly changing demands in service and types-of service levels in the city.

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The quote above comes from the Administrator of Marathon County Wisconsin, Brad Karger. Karger's argument is not that the county is out of money to fund the services provided, but instead that the county should focus first on the most impactful, highest priority programs and ensure that public dollars are not directed toward the lower priority programs.

It will take constant review of the programs the city provides to determine if we are achieving community needs in light of changing conditions. This may mean difficult decisions to be made by citizens and leadership to what programs and services will continue and those that should end.

The easiest way to accomplish this task is to review existing programs provided by the city. First, we should identify the programs that score the lowest against our community priorities. Next, there are a series of questions that we can ask ourselves to determine the continued viability of each program. The next page identifies various policy questions that we can utilize to identify which programs to continue, which to end and those that simply need to be modified.

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Congratulations to the City of Branson for excellence in repurposing and priority based budgeting!

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