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City to Implement Community Budget Advisory Group’s Priorities and Budget Recommendations

October 13, 2010

For more information contact:

Marty Wine, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer 425-430-6526
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569

RENTON: Mayor Denis Law unveiled today, the report of the community budget advisory group that includes recommendations for the city’s budget and priorities for 2011 and beyond. For the first time this year, the City of Renton established a community budget advisory group to participate in the 2011-12 budget process to provide input on community priorities and city services.  Appointed by Mayor Law, this dynamic group of 14 community members represented Renton residents, businesses and a range of interests and perspectives. 

“Public input is extremely important as we work to protect services that are important to our citizens,” said Mayor Denis Law.   “Particularly during these difficult economic times, it is crucial that residents and businesses learn more about the proposed budget and city services, and let us know whether we're headed in the right direction”

“I applaud the city for being so transparent and inclusive, and for creating an opportunity for us to participate in this important process,” said Don Jacobson. “We were very well-informed about the costs of the services we receive from local government and it was great to work together to set a clear path forward.”

Overall, the community budget advisory group complimented the city as being well-managed, with a good business base.  They stated that they were impressed with the quality and high level of service that the city provides and appreciated the focus on customer satisfaction that city employees strive for.

The recommendations of the community budget advisory group focused on:

  • Describing what was important to them and to determine if the services provided by the city meet the community’s priorities.
  • Evaluating the performance measures and outcomes that the city is pursuing and verifying if these “results” are the right ones.
  • Reviewing the budget to recommend relative shares of investment that the city should be making within major services.

Regarding community priorities, the group’s recommendation was to focus on basic services that serve the public and other mandatory services that are required. They agreed that public safety—responsive police and fire/emergency medical services—should remain the city’s highest priority.  They also emphasized the importance of the city’s criminal justice system, services related to the prosecution of civil and criminal cases, and court services.

They stated that parks and recreation services are very important to the community and that the city should continue to keep this as a high priority.

The group also emphasized street maintenance, infrastructure improvements and reliable utility services. The city should make sure that all Renton citizens have access to safe, clean drinking water; the removal and treatment of storm and waste water; and garbage and recycling services.

They encouraged the city to continue to emphasize strong communications and foster community engagement with direct connections between the city, the community, and leaders through the neighborhood program, block watch, and promotion of volunteerism.

The community budget advisory group also supports the city’s efforts to focus on process improvements, performance and accountability. The city should also recognize staff that find opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings and provide incentives to encourage innovation.

“In a time of tight budgets, even a high priority program that is not delivering will no longer be a high priority,” said Jim Poff.

“Keep asking why you do things the way you do, and evaluate whether the services you provide are important to the community,” said Colin Walker.  “While it’s easy to say cut, cut, cut, in a time of deficit, be strategic in where you trim, and innovative in how you deliver services.  Think outside of the box.”

Several suggestions made by the group are already part of the proposed 2011-12 budget and the city plans to implement several other strategies in the future and on an ongoing basis.

 “We will be implementing many of the recommendations provided this year and in the future,” said Mayor Law. “I am very grateful to the community budget advisory group for spending countless hours reviewing the city’s core services and programs, analyzing the city budget, and evaluating business practices and operation to provide us with valuable input and direction as we go forward.”

The 2011-12 budget will include a focus on the following community priorities:

  • Emphasize basic priorities, such as enhancing or maintaining public safety response times, parks and recreation, and infrastructure and maintenance.
  • Propose budget reductions that reduce administrative costs and overhead.
  • Establish performance and deliver measurable results.
  • Clear communications that present the budget and the financial issues facing Renton.
  • Strategies that recognize employees who find opportunities for efficiencies and savings.
  • Specifically achieving cost avoidance or savings in street lighting costs; starting to ask employees to share in medical premium costs; limiting travel and education/training costs; external review of our information technology functions; and streamlining the use of vehicles in the city’s fleet.

Mayor Denis Law will present his 2011-2012 budget to the City Council Monday, October 18, during the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers, seventh floor, City Hall, 1055 Grady Way S.

To receive a copy of the community budget advisory group report, contact Marty Wine at 425-43-6500. For more information on city services and the city budget, please visit rentonwa.gov.