You can vote to #PickYourPriority and let us know which priority will reign as champion at kcmomentum.org.
Jordan Brown, budget analyst, describes how the Citizen Work Sessions are using iClicker software for a fun engagement activity.
Previous budget blogs are archived here.
Community engagement is an essential part of local government. In Kansas City we draw from our 311 service calls and Citizen Satisfaction Survey daily. Furthermore, most large City initiatives have public engagement opportunities. The public are our customers and ultimate performance reviewers. Citizen opinions matter when comes to the business of Kansas City.
The Finance Department hosts several community engagement programs, including the Citizen Work Sessions in the fall. These unique sessions are held at locations throughout the area and provide an opportunity for City leaders to hear the vision of citizens for Kansas City. Multifaceted communication exercises are featured, including a large group activity. This year a brand new “PICK YOUR PRIORITY” exercise was rolled out for discussing the 2017-22 Citywide Business Plan.
“PICK YOUR PRIORITY” is an interactive activity where residents vote to demonstrate what they believe the City should prioritize. The activity is in the form of an athletic tournament with four rounds of program-to-program matchups. There are a total of 16 programs or city services that made it into “the field.” The programs represent City Council goals for 1) finance and governance, 2) neighborhoods and healthy communities, 3) housing, 4) planning, zoning and economic development, 5) public safety, and 6) transportation and infrastructure. Each program is an example of how departments would incorporate an additional $1 million in their budget.
During “PICK YOUR PRIORITY,” two program names and descriptions appear on the presentation screen and the citizen participants vote their priorities with clickers. All participants are able to see the most popular programs advance through the tournament bracket until only one program remains. The Budget Office is using iClicker software to record the final program selected at each of the four sessions as well as the total votes for each program.
Feedback from Citizen Work Sessions is incorporated in the City’s decision-making process including the FY 2017-18 Submitted Budget, where the data will be added as an appendix. Skeptics may say, “Attending a citizen work session is not worth the time,” or “Nothing will be done with my input.” But let me provide the facts. Feedback from last year’s sessions indicated a top citizen priority of investing in neighborhoods—specifically, vacant homes/lots and code violations. The mayor and City Council responded by investing more in neighborhoods in the FY 2016-17 Adopted Budget. A few of those investments include:
- $1.3 million debt service for dangerous building remediation
- $200,000 for the Land Bank to add a 6th mowing cycle
- Transfer of solid waste collection to the Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department
- $300,000 to the Housing Court home repair program for code violations
By charter, the Citywide Business Plan must be adopted by the City Council by November 1. Make your vote count and attend an upcoming Citizen Work Session! City staff are encouraged to participate as subject matter experts at all sessions to help answer questions. So far, all departments have been represented at the sessions to answer questions. Below is the remaining session:
- Thursday, Oct. 6, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Health Department, 2400 Troost Ave.
You can register and spread the word to your neighbors so they can participate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 816-513-1313.