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Citizens’ Budget Feedback

 

City of Cincinnati Citizens’ Budget Initiative
Summary of Participant Feedback

OBJECTIVES

  • Get Council on a City agenda not their individual agendas
  • Competiveness – i.e. more walk ability/public transit options to attract more jobs, developers, and retain citizens and young talent, educational opportunities thus generating more revenue for budget
  • Regional vision and partnerships
  • Five-year strategic plan
  • Neighborhood and ” expert” teams – so that all neighborhoods’ needs are discussed in the process
  • SMALE – like revenue source to guarantee proper investment in infrastructure
  • Tying budget to Plan Cincinnati & long-term strategies
  • Consistency of the vision and process. Uniformity among City departments
  • Increase revenue and balance budget that may include more resources
  • Innovations in service delivery/ better quality service/technology and shared services
  • Meaningful citizen engagement on budget issues
  • Reduce crime/increased safety
  • Attraction to urban core vs. suburbs
  • Increased voter participation
  • Proportionate budget vs. Police and Fire receiving the bulk

 

SUCCESS FACTORS

  • Council engaged throughout the process (not just campaigning)
  • Several methods of public engagement/education i.e. social media, in person, media partnerships
  • Unions and interest groups are engaged in process
  • Department budgets set with citizen input before going to Council
  • Diverse citizens are engaged in and enjoy the budget process
  • Discuss priorities and values on detailed levels (neighborhood needs & department level decisions)
  • Neighborhoods working together to solve budget problems—not competing
  • Communicate real impact of budget-balancing cuts
  • Growth in residential population and businesses
  • Increased revenue
  • Prioritization
  • Use of available resources i.e. local colleges
  • All 52 neighborhoods benefit
  • Use of our regional advantages i.e. marketing hub, healthcare, etc.
  • Long-term framework/strategic plan which uses citizens to guide budget decisions

 

CHALLENGES

  • Engaging Council/Politics
  • Limited resources
  • Status Quo (vs. Progress)
  • Streetcar (or lack thereof)
  • Apathy/Disinterest
  • Low voter turnout
  • Varying priorities
  • Differing neighborhood perspectives and needs/equality in funding distribution
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of innovation
  • Database of customer information
  • Differing agendas among Mayor, City Manager and Council
  • Determining how much funding each department receives
  • Economic Development – how long it takes to complete projects
  • Council micro-management and they are not here to listen to the larger discussion
  • How to get appropriate funds to people who need it

 

STEPS

  • Engage Council with neighborhoods, City staff and department heads/funneling priorities to decision makers
  • Go out to other community meetings to engage people/Budget Basics
  • More citizen engagement EARLY in the process
  • Specific departments engage citizens/staff/interconnect department dialogs
  • Budgeting for neighborhoods (dept heads and staff visit neighborhoods)
  • Refresh and prioritize values before decisions
  • Visual aids (e.g. to show impact of budget decisions)
  • New variety of creative budget presentations, games, kiosks, public booths
  • Present historical and financially driven factual based info in support of projects and budget choices
  • Comprehensive online budget process/Web site
  • Take Cost/Benefit Analysis into consideration
  • Define clear strategic priorities/strategic plan
  • Hierarchy change i.e. strong Mayor vs. Mayor and City Manager
  • Collaborative spending among neighborhoods by common goals – provide incentives for those who do
  • Create partnerships
  • Increase revenue by indentifying shared services opportunities, and exploring taxes/fees
  • Quality of life surveys – ask people to rank and have multiple priorities
  • Strategic incentives for job growth in small business, entry-level jobs, and neighborhoods on the edge of growth
  • Move away from fear-based thinking
  • Outreach to stakeholders i.e. businesses, restaurants, schools, churches, etc.
  • Less “emergency” funding i.e. Emergency Ordinances

 

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