City of Duluth Launches #PBB Budget Game & Engages with 800+ Citizens in First Week!

"..... I can't get enough of our priority based budgeting!" - Duluth Mayor Larson during State of the City address

"Using the results from this (Priority Based Budgeting) budget game, the City intends to review future budget allocations based on which programs most directly and efficiently achieve the community’s priorities."

The City of Duluth, Minnesota is the first city in Minnesota to implement Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) and successfully begin taking action on their data. Jennifer Carlson, Budget Manager, and Wayne Parson, CFO, led the City’s Project implementation which launched in December 2017.

By August 2018, they were taking action on their data by identifying opportunities at the program level. They utilized the PBB Blue Print, the Five Policy Questions and the Commenting functionality in the RAD tools to support these programatic opportunities.

But they didn't stop there... Super Users Wayne Parson and Jen Carlson are constantly and consistently looking for ways to keep PBB at the forefront of their budget initiatives. They completed an internal program mapping exercise in the fall of 2018 to help identify ways in which departments could partner to reallocate resources.

Additionally, they are making PBB a part of their 2020 budget process. They have ensured that the leaders of their organization, from Budget Analysts to the Leadership Team, know how to use the tools and understand the purpose and mission of PBB in the City of Duluth.

State of the City

On April 15, 2019, City of Duluth Mayor Emily Larson delivered her State of the City address. Mayor Larson kicked off her address by sharing several moving stories detailing the rich and complex history of the city in an effort to provide a path forward.

The Mayor then dove into what is considered a more traditional state of the city address by identifying four highlights of what has happened within the past year in the city. Highlight number three emphasized the impact of priority based budgeting on the city.

"Highlight three. You already know I’m a bit geeky about planning, but I also love math, and I can’t get enough of our priority-based budgeting. Maybe a bit dorky, but just you wait. You’ll be hooked, too.

This is the first year we’ve implemented it, and Duluth is the first city in the state to adopt this staff and community driven budgeting practice. What’s exciting (at least to me, and to Chief Financial Officer Wayne Parson) is that for the first time ever we know exactly what each city service we provide costs! Major kudos to Wayne and his team, and to all of our city staff who have done an enormous amount of work to make this transition possible. I think it’ll be worth the effort. Budgets represent our values and priorities in numbers, and now we can more precisely ensure they align.

And so here’s my ask: before you leave, get some refreshments (made by Denfeld students!) and then swing by the table in back and vote on YOUR budget priorities for us as a city. Link to game here."

Duluth Mayor Larson State of the City Address video

Duluth Budget Priority Game

One of the most outstanding PBB actions the city has applied centers around their Community Engagement. Jen and Wayne created a "game" to take PBB to the citizens. Launching their game at Duluth's Sidewalk Days in July 2018, Jen and her team provide 10 coins to constituents valued at $100 each in PBB money. Participants get to then allocate that $1,000 to the priorities they think are most important to the city.

Wayne and Jen took the game a step further, and on Monday, April 15, 2019, the game launched online on the city's website. The online version allows participants to allocate $1,000 to any of the six identified priorities. In the 10 days since it launched, they have had over 800 citizens participate.

From City website.....

The cost and demand for City services is a difficult challenge every year. Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) is a unique and innovative approach to match available resources with community priorities. Your input is important in helping us to identify where your tax dollars should be spent. Using the results from this game, the City intends to review future budget allocations based on which programs most directly and efficiently achieve the community’s priorities.

Duluth Launches Budget Game to Help Prioritize Spending

Fox 21 local news in Duluth recently published a piece written by Ryan Compeau "Duluth Launches Budget Game to Help Prioritize Spending." The video and full article (below) provide insight on the city's priority based budgeting initiative, an interview with Duluth Budget Manager Jen Carlson, insight on the purpose of the budget interaction game and data on citizen interaction to date.

"The city of Duluth has launched a so-called “budget game” to let the Mayor Emily Larson know where you think your tax dollars should be spent the most.

The game can be played online on the city’s website or in person at City Hall.

You get $1,000 of fake money to allocate in whatever categories you find most important for Duluth, like infrastructure, housing, or green space.

City leaders say the game is a fun way to focus on priority based budgeting to match available resources with community priorities.

Budget Priority Game Video Overview

“It’s critical. We are so excited that we are able to roll this out to the community. We’ve done it at a couple different ways through our actual game as well as the online game so we really are excited for the opportunity to have citizen input and participation,” said Jen Carlson, the city’s budget manager.

The city says in just one week more than 800 people played the budget game.

The city intends to use the data from the game to create future budgets that better meet the community’s priorities.

Click here to play the game!"

We are tremendously impressed with how thoroughly the City of Duluth has embraced "PBB culture" in their organization. And the way the city has embraced citizens in their implementation of priority based budgeting and has initiated the true ROI of PBB which is applying PBB data to achieve results.

Congratulations and great work Team Duluth!

2019 PBB Summit Early Bird Registration is Open. Find out more and register today!

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