Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Mayor Allender
Mayor Allender
March 30, 2014

Priority Driven Budgeting in Rapid City

Each year, Rapid City creates a budget, determining how it will fund the various departments and services. When there is not enough money to fund everything, city officials have to decide where to make cuts. In the past, the city has used traditional budgets and budgeting for outcomes. In these times of financial difficulty, a move to priority-driven budgeting may be beneficial to the city.

Traditional Budget

In a traditional budget, the city looks at how much money is available compared to how much it wants to spend. If the city has less money available, it usually tries to fund everything at a reduced value: City incomes down 10%, every department gets cut 10%. Budgets are done on a year by year basis.

Budgeting for Outcome

 For the 2013 budget, Rapid City shifted to Budgeting For Outcomes. Instead of trying to fund all services at an equal rate, under budgeting for outcomes, the city picks a number of high-level results that matter most to the residents. These become future outcomes the city is trying to achieve, and money is devoted to these outcomes. Service providers come up with ideas for achieving these outcomes, making plans that will show how they will achieve the outcome and at what cost. Proposals are ranked and funded. In this way, the city government can focus on the long-term outcome.

Priority-Driven Budgeting

Budgeting for Outcomes is a variant of Priority-Driven budgeting. In priority-driven budgeting, the city government determines its most important strategic priorities, and programs and services are evaluated in terms of how they align with these priorities.

Overall, priority-driven budgeting and budgeting for outcome are philosophical changes for a government. To start, the city government needs to know what it is trying to accomplish. Funding for these priorities mean that the city is able to do the most important things well, instead of spreading funds around so everything is done moderately. There is also a level of accountability added, as the programs funded will have stated the results they plan to achieve.

For the 2015 Rapid City budget, Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker announced that the city would start transitioning to Priority-Driven Budgeting. Seven core values had been identified in the 2014 Comprehensive Plan. This and future budgets would be tied to those values. 

2016 Rapid City budget

For the 2017 Rapid City budget Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender oversaw the transition from line-item budget to priority based project budgeting.  This approach did not allow organizations or city departments to make presentations to the City Council as they had in years past.  Mayor Allender also called for the creation of a Government Efficiency Committee to review certain programs he believed deserved less funding. 

Additional Resources

A solution for uncertain times: budgeting for outcomes  A look at using budgeting for outcomes, particularly in Snohomish County, Washington

Anatomy of a priority-driven budget process  In-depth examination of priority-driven budgets

Zero Based Budgeting:  an overview

Budgeting that really works  Breakdown of budgeting for outcomes

Center for priority based budgeting  Organization devoted to helping local governments implement priority-based budgets






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