Mayor Chris Beutler today released a prioritized list of all 224 City programs and encouraged the public to comment on the list at lincoln.ne.gov. He also announced that for the first time, the list includes the estimated cost of providing the program in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The list is part of the City's "Taking Charge" public budget process, which also includes a budget survey now available on the same City website.
The Mayor said the first three years of the "Taking Charge" process have shown City leaders that residents want to better understand the budget and the options that are available. He said the prioritized program list gives residents a simple and clear picture of what City Hall does and how much it costs. City programs are listed in order based on their importance in achieving goals, and those at the bottom of the list are less likely to be funded when the budget is tight.
"You can clearly see which programs are at risk when there is a budget shortfall and how much revenue we need to keep a program going," Beutler said. "You don't have to understand the complicated budget terms, dig through pages of data or know the right questions to ask. The program prioritization list available on our City website gives taxpayers a more clear and direct way to look at the City budget than they've ever had before."
Beutler said the list is an important tool in creating transparency and is designed to encourage community discussion. "It is important to my Administration to provide that information as we build consensus for a budget blueprint - a blueprint for the kind of future we want for Lincoln," he said. "Again this year, we face tough choices in maintaining the programs that help give Lincoln its unique quality of life. It is imperative that we make these choices together, because all of us will live with both the positive and the negative consequences of our decisions."
The City worked with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center on the list and the survey. About 1,400 people have taken the online survey so far. The Mayor also reminded residents that they can sign up online for the "Taking Charge Community Conversation" on Saturday June 18 at City Hall. Participants will learn more about the City budget and discuss several specific issues that will help the City establish priorities and make spending choices.