Mayor TenHaken proposes new budgeting process

At first glance I like the direction of this new process, especially the first tier;

It’s a two-page summary of the request that is then scored by committees of city staff from all 11 departments based on five criteria:

  • Does it meet the goals of the city?
  • Is it innovative?
  • Is it sustainable?
  • Does it foster partnerships with other organizations and agencies?
  • Is it measurable?

After scoring about 50 of those “RFRs,” which Pritchett declined to share details about, the ones with the highest score are prioritized. That’s when the public engagement aspect of TenHaken’s budgeting process comes in.

This is really how department heads SHOULD be submitting their budgets through a scoring process. I also like the 5 questions, but where it gets wobbly is the 2nd tier where they say the ‘public’ would be involved;

“We want to engage people that may not have been engaged in the process in the past,” said Pritchett, who this month will bring the highest-scored proposals to a citizen group of Leadership Sioux Falls members to get even more feedback.

While having the public leadership group involved is also a great idea, I would apply it a little differently. As I have mentioned in the past, the City Council, the legislative body of the city should really be putting the budget together after the 1st tier is implemented and the leadership group weighs in. After that I think the COUNCIL not the MAYOR should introduce a preliminary budget that is presented to citizens in at least 2-3 public meetings/open houses where citizens can tell councilors what they like and don’t like. And during the process there should be an online participatory budgeting website that people can leave comments (an idea council candidate Weiland suggested). After that process is finished the council can present there final budget to the mayor and public.

Why shouldn’t the mayor be involved? First off, under charter, the council controls the purse strings, and secondly the mayor’s office is really just another department that can put in it’s requests like the other departments.

The city needs to get back to having our citizen representatives draw up a budget that reflects citizens instead of corporate welfare and play palaces.


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