Fiscal Responsibility

When we talk about City funded efforts, large projects get most of the attention. However, the City spends a lot on smaller initiatives also that can add up pretty quickly. I will give attention to both. The goal isn’t purely to spend as little as possible, it is to spend wisely and to ensure we are maximizing the value we achieve. I call this the cost/value sweet spot. For example, if we spend 50% of the money can we achieve 80% of the value? If so, it’s worth a hard look.

Budget information is posted at What really stood out is that for FY21 we were only one step below Critical with pretty severe recommended actions yet there has been spending over the past year where if someone said would you rather have A or B the community is polarized on the choice made. Some topics in the FY22 budget that I will be exploring further include budgeting for the Arts and Culture district, demographic updates, affordable housing, recreation budgets, tax revenue projections, and the future risk of economic impact related to rising costs/project overruns. Our tax revenues are breaking records, but that doesn’t mean we should focus any less on the importance of being fiscally responsible. Strategic planning and community priorities should drive spending decisions.

As we look forward there are a number of major projects to consider such as the public funded Arts & Culture District. Just because the current process may allow for spending authorization within certain limits doesn’t always mean initiatives should proceed without a robust opportunity for public input. That’s not to say there never is, and the City does share information in public channels. We have to listen to each other and even with all those efforts if people feel disconnected it needs to be addressed. Transparency and public involvement to the process is critical, as is a focus on how the spending supports our goals as a community. If it doesn’t then we have to ask ourselves if whatever we are doing is a prudent use of funds.

Nobody has a crystal ball to see the future. There are economic issues in the US and globally which may impact City revenues in future years. At the Federal level there is discussion of capital gains changes, which may have a significant impact on our real estate market and therefore property tax revenue. We need to continuously look at reserve amounts (including our current standards) and be careful to evaluate risk when we spend money relying at least in part on the City’s history of growth. Combine those possibilities with sprawl outside City limits where revenues (fully or partially) go to other jurisdictions and we may find ourselves “over our skis” so to speak, resulting in the inability to pursue future initiatives that have significant community value in addition to clearly supporting our strategic goals.

I believe as a community we will benefit from:
–Evaluation of spending against strategic goals as sourced from residents
–Challenging ideas to make sure we find the sweet spot from a cost/value perspective
–Transparency into discretionary spending even if it doesn’t hit the threshold for a major public process–Ensuring we take an appropriate approach to financial reserves
–Looking for opportunities to maintain City revenues without issuing new debt, while at the same time not trying to enter businesses we shouldn’t as a municipality (I’m a strong proponent of public/private partnerships)

My background professionally has focused on a number of competencies including operational efficiency, business strategy, technology solutions, risk management, and financial optimization. If I am fortunate enough to represent our community I will apply these skills in addition to my experience working with many municipalities to drive results.