Public input to help with creation of city’s next budget: Priorities will drive the decision-making

Colleen Kelly

Citizens were invited to a Budgeting by Priorities (BP) open house Monday evening at Redmond City Hall, to help with creation of the city’s budget for 2011-2012.

The city first implemented the BP process in 2008. The goal was to identify broad priorities for Redmond and find programs and services that could produce measurable results at best prices. The same broad priorities will drive decision-making for the current budget process. Those priorities are:

• Business Vitality: attracting and retaining a diverse and vibrant range of businesses, including retail, restaurants, high-tech, manufacturing, personal services and tourism.

• Clean and Green Environment: clean air and water, abundant parks and trails, effective waste management, sustainability.

• Community Building: places to gather, shared cultural experiences, opportunities to volunteer, ways to increase civic pride.

• Government Responsiveness: transparency, efficiency, good customer service and fiscal responsibility.

• Managing Infrastructure and Growth: especially with regard to Redmond’s two Urban Centers, Downtown and Overlake.

• Safety: proactive programs to prevent fires and crimes, well-trained personnel and the proper equipment to react to fires and crimes, community and business partnerships to encourage compliance with health and safety standards, emergency/disaster preparedness.

Beginning in March of this year, the city has sought citizens’ input about programs and services that will help to deliver those outcomes.

Results Teams, each consisting of five city employees and a citizen representative, are now taking Requests for Offers and will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each offer.

And just as in the last BP process, the priorities for city spending are being determined “from the ground up,” regardless of what programs and services are currently in place.

Existing programs and services could either be maintained, enhanced or eliminated, depending on citizens’ priorities, the ability to fund those priorities and final approval by the Redmond City Council.

The possible costs and the pros and cons of each program or service will be analyzed throughout the summer. Mayor John Marchione will present a draft budget to the City Council in October. Additional public meetings and more deliberation will occur before the budget is revised and voted upon at the end of the year.

That is the point where exact dollar figures will be adjusted up or down, Marchione explained at Monday’s open house.

Results Team Leaders gave brief presentations Monday, explaining how Requests for Offers will be evaluated.

Representing the Business community, city planner Erika Vandenbrande said the mix of businesses should foster both daytime and nighttime vitality and be of interest to both Redmond residents and workers. And to attract and retain businesses, she noted, the city must also provide an efficient permitting process, safe environment, adequate parking and other easy access, whether customers are driving, walking, biking or using mass transit.

Dave Tuchek of Redmond Parks and Recreation spoke about physical amenities for a Clean and Green Environment such as clean air and water and open parks but also the importance of environmental stewardship. The concepts of “reduce, reuse and recycle” could be better encouraged at the residential level, he noted.

Also from Redmond Parks and Recreation, Jean Rice talked about Community Building programs and services. “This is what brings us together and makes us a community,” she emphasized.

People can’t feel connected to one another without the right communication tools, civic organizations and enjoyable shared experiences such as Derby Days and Redmond Lights, said Rice. She’d like to see more community gatherings and “have citizens feel ownership of their neighborhoods.”

Kelley Wood of the city’s Finance and Information Services department said Government Responsiveness programs and services must satisfy citizens’ expectations for effective leadership, fiscal responsibility, quality service and community connections.

Managing Infrastructure and Growth, said Joel Pfundt of Public Works, means maintaining existing infrastructure first and “once it’s well-maintained, use it as much as you can and avoid more cost.” An example, he said, is to “use intelligent transportation systems to keep traffic flowing.” Seeking funding and planning for new infrastructure must also be a priority, said Pfundt, to keep people and goods moving as the population grows.

Speaking on behalf of the Safety team, Redmond’s human services manager Colleen Kelly explained, “We need to not just keep people safe but give them a feeling of being safe.”

That includes having emergency and disaster preparedness firmly in place, having day-to-day access to excellent police and fire departments and raising awareness of what citizens can do to increase security for themselves and their neighbors.

“All of these come together through technology,” said Kelly.

Attendees at Monday’s open house were invited to jot ideas on flip charts in the lobby of City Hall or to e-mail suggestions to BP@redmond.gov. If you did not attend the open house but would like to submit ideas, you can still do so through Monday, May 10.

For more information about the Budgeting by Priorities process, visit www.redmond.gov/BP.

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