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2009 Media Releases


Date:
February 5, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


MAYOR ASKS FOR PUBLIC INPUT ON GOALS AND PRIORITIES
Taking Charge" document part of outcome-based budgeting process

Mayor Chris Beutler today released a new budget planning document outlining City goals and priorities and encouraged the public to get involved in the process. The report - Taking Charge: Progress Measures and Program Prioritization" - is now available on the City Web site (lincoln.ne.gov). Mayor Beutler said it is the next step in the City's transition to an outcome-based budgeting process.

"Outcome-based budgeting is an innovative approach to answering the big questions: what services should the City provide and how much should we pay?" said Mayor Beutler. "The process challenges us to consider what we want to be as a community."

Beutler said one advantage of the new process is that it is goal-oriented. "With the old budget process, the starting point was simply what we did last year," he said. "With the outcome-based approach, we start with ideas as to what we want to accomplish. Each year as a community, we decide what our goals are for the next year. Looking ahead, rather than behind, helps us provide programs that solve the most pressing problems."

Beutler said outcome-based budgeting also breaks down barriers between departments, increases City government accountability and transparency, and makes is easier for the public to participate in the process. "Outcome-based budgeting creates an easily understood list of services, giving citizens the information they need to determine which programs help accomplish our community goals," he said.

Beutler said the process began a year ago when the public was asked to participate in PRIORITY LINCOLN. From that effort, the City established eight citywide "outcomes" - Safety and Security, Economic Opportunity, Healthy and Productive People, Livable Neighborhoods, Effective Transportation, Environmental Quality, Accountable Government, and Identity Lincoln.

In "Taking Charge," goals are identified for each outcome. Programs and services are divided into three tiers based on their importance in reaching the goals. Progress indicators allow citizens to easily determine whether the City is meeting the goals.

Cathy Beecham, past president of the Near South Neighborhood Association, was one of the private citizens who attended meetings to help with the process. "I found this approach extremely effective, especially in light of the current economic situation," she said. "Focusing on this year's outcomes rather than last year's budget encouraged an important exchange of ideas between participants. The resulting dialogue really helped us identify and prioritize the programs we felt were vital to encouraging and maintaining livable neighborhoods in Lincoln."

"I want every citizen in Lincoln to review the document and tell us what you think," Beutler said. "Tell us your goals for Lincoln. Tell us what programs you think best help us get to where you want Lincoln to be. Take charge of your City's budget and tell us what you want to do."

The Mayor is scheduled to make his decisions on the 2009-2010 City budget in May, and the budget is released to the public in June. The City Council votes on tentative changes to the Mayor's budget in July. The public hearing and budget adoption take place in August.


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