Priority Based Budgeting

Starting in the spring of 2014, the City of Bainbridge Island partnered with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) to change our budgeting process to a priority based budgeting approach.

Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) provides a way to compare community values with the programs and services that a government entity provides. PBB helps the City and community:
• Identify key Council and community goals
• Evaluate the impacts of these goals on city programs and services
• Engage in strategic decision-making regarding funding for services, and/or changes to service levels for current programs and services.

PBB helps the community and city employees understand the City’s use of its limited resources. This method of budgeting contributes to the city’s long-term financial sustainability by encouraging explicit choices. These choices help the City develop a strategic budget that reflects our community values and ensures a high level of city service to residents.

Community and Governance Results
Based on Council discussions, staff input, and consultant review, six strategic priorities have been identified for the City of Bainbridge Island. The following critical areas are where the City will focus its efforts:
• Safe City
• Green, Well-Planned Community
• Reliable Infrastructure and Connected Mobility
• Healthy and Attractive Community
• Vibrant Economy
• Good Governance 
 
 Results Maps show how the City is working to achieve each result. 
 
Department Program Inventories
Each department develops a comprehensive list of programs and services offered by that department. These program inventories build a common understanding of what the City is offering to the community.

The citywide Program Inventory is a list of 447 programs. 
 
Program Scoring
Each department then evaluates each program in its inventory, and indicates how much each program contributes to achieving each result. Departments also score other attributes of each program, such as the level of mandate to provide the program, the amount of cost recovery of the program, change in demand for the program, and portion of the community served by the program.

CPBB provides scoring guidelines for community and governance programs.
 
After departments score the programs, other departments review, validate, and cross-check the scores through a peer review process.

Program Costing
In addition to scoring each program against the Results identified through the PBB process, departments also provide estimated cost information for each program. Through this process, departments estimate the level of staff effort and other department budget dedicated to each program.

CPBB combined the Inventory, Costing and Scoring information in a Scorecard, one for community programs and one for governance programs.  
 
 
What we learned and the Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool

Reviewing the list of 2014 programs offered by City departments shows the wide variety of programs and services offered by the City of Bainbridge Island. This initial effort to present the City’s information through the Priority Based Budgeting lens resulted in a list of over 300 community programs and over 100 governance programs. By adding costing information, the City can see how much it budgets to provide each program.
The Center for Priority Based Budgeting reviewed all the information it had requested from the City and compiled it into the Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool. This presentation allows for multiple methods of sorting the information. Initial feedback indicates:
• The City’s overall spending pattern indicates a positive distribution across quartiles, with the most spending in Quartiles One and Two.  

• The spending distribution by department differs somewhat, based on the programs offered by each department and the outcome of the program scoring. 

• Program costing data indicates that we spend more on programs that align most closely with some Results than others. For example, the 2014 data indicates that the City budgets $7.2 million for programs supporting the Safe City Result, while budgeting $1.5 million for programs supporting the Vibrant Economy Result.

Next Steps:

The City is committed to work in early 2015 to begin next iteration of the Priority Based Budgeting process. In advance of that effort, City staff will be going back to complete some identified housekeeping from the initial round of analysis:

1. Affirm and document the level of mandate. The City will provide specific reference to source of mandate for all programs scored 2 or higher.
2. Review the program inventory lists from all departments to ensure a consistent level of detail on program inventory across departments.
3. Review program inventory to compress cross-departmental functions into a single program (for example, Public Notary).
4. Review program inventory to provide complete and meaningful descriptions for each program.

Further detail on the Priority Based Budgeting process as it has been implemented at other cities is available from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting or the International City Managers Association (ICMA) Center for Management Strategies Leading Practices web resource page.