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Branson, MO Applies PBB + Strategic Planning + Capital Planning to Unlock the Budget for the Benefit

| August 29, 2018 | By

“At a time when your revenues are growing at a smaller pace than your expenditures, you can’t add new revenues you have to come up with another way to achieve the results of our community. Priority-based budgeting simply says we are going to distribute the funds we have toward the priorities of our community." Now, we can truly say, we’re spending dollars to achieve results the public told us were important.”

The City of Branson was the first city in Missouri to implement Priority Based Budgeting. The City pursued PBB as a direct means to connect the way they budgeted to the long-term vision and Strategic Plan that Council had developed for the future of the community.

Branson was among the first communities to truly recognize the power of PBB to unify and fortify budgeting with strategic planning. They realized that a Strategic Plan is incomplete, without the backing and support of resources (money and people) to achieve it - PBB was their tool to execute and implement the Strategic Plan, a vital road map for it’s ultimate fulfillment. And to cap it off, the final step in this process was communicating their plan, and their story, to their citizens, in the most magnificent way.

In 2017, Branson created a Budget Magazine to compliment their budget book. The intent was to unlock the budget information from the budget for citizens to more clearly understand the Branson budget through info-graphics and short, concise sections.

The Budget Magazine also includes a Priority Based Budgeting section so that citizens can better understand how Branson uses PBB for strategic planning and budgeting. See a snapshot of the PBB section of the Branson Budget Magazine below or to see the full Budget Magazine click here (starts on page 8).

City of Branson 2018 PBB Update

Now in 2018, Branson has unveiled an updated budget book (Branson 2018 Budget Book. PBB section starts on page 9). Including a completely updated section on priority based budgeting and how the city has applied PBB over the course of the last year.

Branson has masterfully articulated, with a focus on clearly communicating this information to citizens, how they apply PBB data, what exact results the community aims to achieve, and ties in which specific programs helps the community achieve these results. Per the Branson 2018 budget book......

"The city's traditional approach to budgeting has typically been incremental-based, with last year’s budget serving as the basis for the budget of the following year. This has typically been done in concert with a zero-based approach, where accounts for certain line items essentially start with zero and every planned purchase is detailed. Unfortunately, these budgeting methods do not adequately address priorities, and do not directly link to strategic goals or performance measurement. As part of the solution to this dilemma, our organization has partnered with ResourceX toward establishing a framework and providing a “new lens” through which the organization can clearly see where opportunities exist - therefore making more effective use of finite resources and continuing to serve in the most effective, efficient and fiscally responsible manner possible.

The Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) model provides a comprehensive review of the entire organization’s operating budget, identifying and ranking services (programs) offered on the basis of the community’s priorities. The diagnostic process enables policy makers to link funding decisions to priorities in the strategic plan. The PBB philosophy involves “Results”, which are the fundamental reason an organization exists, and what the organization is 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."

PBB Applied to Capital Project Planning & Prioritization

Branson is now on their way to achieving the PBB holy grail! Not only have they methodically embedded PBB into their Strategic Plan, but have now incorporated PBB into their capital planning process to achieve short and long-term strategic results for the community!

The following article (Branson plans for future capital projects) was written by John Robinson and originally published in the Branson Tri Lakes News. See the full article below.

Branson Plans for Future Capital Projects

For two days across two weeks, Branson officials with the budget and finance committee and capital improvements committee planned the course of the city’s capital projects for the next two years.

Jamie Rouch, director of finance for Branson, said the process was a first for the city as it looks to apply priority-based budgeting for the capital projects.

“We implemented this a few years back for our operations funds, and we felt like it was important for our capital process as well,” Rouch said. “What I mean by capital process is funds we have to set aside for capital purchases.”

According to Rouch, the city asked each of its department head to look at requests for capital for 2019 and 2020 and give each item a priority rank.

“Once we had those scores, we had a peer review team, which consisted of our capital committee and our finance committee, coming together in a joint meeting to score those as well,” Rouch said.

During those meetings, Rouch said the joint committees went through each item, deciding which ones the city should put funds into. During the pair of meetings, officials discussed projects ranging from water and sewer maintenance, improvements to city parks and the continuation of the 76 Revitalization Project.

“Today, and last week, was about distributing those funds to the capital requested,” Rouch said.

“Deciding which were the most important for the city to achieve.”

According to Rouch, the practice will be helpful in allowing the city to make sure funds are being used with maximum impact for the city in mind.

“At a time when your revenues are growing at a smaller pace than your expenditures, you can’t add new revenues you have to come up with another way to achieve the results of our community,” Rouch said. “Priority-based budgeting simply says we are going to distribute the funds we have toward the priorities of our community.

“We started off with the operational, and then we move the capital into it, and I think it’s been pretty successful.”

Looking ahead, Rouch said the two-day process will allow for a more confident discussion during the city’s budget planning in the fall.

“It means we’ll be able to go to the board and present a budget and identify the amount of dollars we’re putting toward our goals,” Rouch said. “That goes back to our Community Plan 2030. The goals came right out of the community plan. The community is the one that set those goals, and the board and department heads define those.

“Now, we can truly say, we’re spending dollars to achieve results the public told us were important.”

According to Rouch, the city will conduct its special budget meeting in October with first and second reads of the budget by the Branson Board of Aldermen planned for November.

Congratulations to the City of Branson for their innovative application of PBB + Strategic Planning + Capital Planning and unlocking the budget for the benefit of their citizens!