Edmonds City Council to hear about ‘Budget for Priorities’ system Thursday night

By Harry Gatjens

The Edmonds City Council will hear from the Redmond City Finance Department this Thursday, March 22, at 6 p.m. The presentation will describe how the “Budget for Priorities” System works and the effort involved in implementing it.

This is an alternative budgeting system that some cities are using to deal with the new economic realities they are facing. It begins with an assumption that you are starting from scratch and need to put together a priority list of what services the city must and can provide. Costs are then negotiated and set for each service and then the services are “ranked” by most desirable or necessary down to the “like to haves.”

From there, the available dollars are allocated down the list until you run out of money. Any service below that point is not provided.

The idea for this system was first brought up at the City Council retreat in February but was rescheduled due to illness.

One of the features of the system is the need for much citizen involvement in helping rank the priority of the various services. The system requires a great deal of effort as each service provider needs to think about what service they are providing and establish a cost to do so.  Even if the Council decided to use this new approach, the work involved would probably mean it couldn’t be used until the 2014 budget process.

As citizen input is crucial to the implementation of this system, you are encouraged to come to this presentation, especially if you are concerned about Edmonds’ quality of life and financial future. The meeting is open to the public and will not be broadcast on the city television channel.

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