"Over the past year, the City has taken a journey into PBB (Priority Based Budgeting), and it has been an eye-opening experience. Essentially, PBB has provided a mechanism for Rowlett to shed light on where it is spending its money. For example, we have a $12.9 million budget for the Police Department. How are we spending those funds? Who is benefiting? What are we getting for our dollars? These are just some of the questions PBB helps to answer." - City of Rowlett
In October 2019, ResourceX began working with the City of Rowlett on their Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) initiative in support of their 2021 fiscal year budget. Rowlett's proposed 2021 budget has now been released. Here is how the city frames its priority based budgeting initiative and (current) outcomes within the budget document. Access the full 2021 Rowlett proposed budget here or read more on PBB in Rowlett below.
PRIORITY BASED BUDGETING
In 2018, the City adopted its Strategic Plan establishing our vision, mission, core values, strategic priorities and goals. The Strategic Plan is designed to focus the City’s resources into the elements the community values most; however, there are still many competing needs. A natural balance for this effort is Priority Based Budgeting (PBB).
Resource X, the City’s consultant for this process, describes PBB below.
The traditional approach to governmental budgeting is incremental: The current year’s budget becomes the basis for the next year’s spending plan, and the majority of the organization’s analytical and political attention focuses on how to modify this year’s spending plan based on revenues anticipated in the next year.
Priority-based budgeting is a common sense, data-driven, strategic alternative to incremental budgeting. The philosophy of priority-driven budgeting is that resources should be allocated according to how effectively a program or service achieves the goals and objectives that are of greatest value to the community. Priority-based budgeting is a best practice in municipal finance.
Whether you’re new to Priority Based Budgeting, or a current practitioner of PBB, you have come to the realization and accepted the fact that budgeting is a powerful lever for change. The budget is a mechanism to translate our ambitions, our visions for the future, and our policies into the actions of service delivery, fueled by resources (people, time and money).
Priority based budgeting is a unique and innovative approach to budget planning which enables organizations to effectively match available resources with priorities. The underlying philosophy is about how governments, corporations and organizations allocate fiscal, physical and human resources to meet their stated objectives.
Over the past year, the City has taken a journey into PBB, and it has been an eye-opening experience. Essentially, PBB has provided a mechanism for Rowlett to shed light on where it is spending its money. For example, we have a $12.9 million budget for the Police Department. How are we spending those funds? Who is benefiting? What are we getting for our dollars? These are just some of the questions PBB helps to answer.
The value in PBB means we stop talking about incremental changes by line-item and focus on programs that have value to our community. It helps us ask better questions. For example, could we outsource our Senior Programs and make the net cost to taxpayers more efficient? Could we increase fees or seek grant help? Would hiring more police officers for Patrol Services reduce our response time for priority one calls? These are all questions not typically asked with traditional budgeting.
How has this helped Rowlett in the budget process this year?
It will take time for the City to become experts with this tool; however, the potential is there to have more valuable discussions between policymakers and staff, make more informed decisions, and better educate our public on how the City is using their taxpayer dollars.
Over the course of the next year, staff will spend more time working with PBB. In particular, there are over a dozen programs identified by staff and Council as part of the review process that we will examine to see if there are more efficient ways to provide those services or if they need to be provided at all. An example is Fleet Services Management. The City is currently evaluating a proposal from Enterprise Fleet Management to manage the City’s acquisition and maintenance process for its rolling stock that has the potential to save the City one million dollars over the next ten years. The success of the program is based on optimizing the ownership life so that equipment is replaced before it falls out of factory warranty, improving equipment uptime and reducing the cost of ongoing maintenance.
Another example is Community Events. The City spends a lot of money in personnel and overtime costs to put on events such as July 4th, the Holiday Parade, Touch-a-Truck, etc. In light of the economic downturn due to the pandemic, I am proposing to eliminate the Touch-a-Truck event which has traditionally been connected to the Memorial Day event. While this particular event represents small dollars, the Community Events program as a whole has a large budget and other savings may be possible.
FY2021 BUDGET PRIORITIES AND HIGHLIGHTS
Strategic priorities are broad statements of what the City seeks to accomplish to realize its vision and accomplish its mission. These are the drivers that formulate goals, strategies, objectives and tasks. This is also where the City prioritizes how its resources are allocated, and to what purpose, to achieve its outcomes. These are, in turn, supported by detailed action plans and performance metrics to measure and monitor progress.
The FY2021 Proposed Budget takes into account available resources and allocates revenues to the highest strategic priorities identified in the City’s Strategic Plan. The plan, adopted in 2018, describes the vision, mission, values and strategic priorities of the City of Rowlett. Shown below are strategic priorities that guided the development of the FY2021 Proposed Budget.
Great work and congratulations to the City of Rowlett, TX for incorporating PBB into your 2021 budget. We look forward to the opportunity to continue working with you as you take the next steps to apply PBB data for actionable decision-making!