It’s that time of year again! The FY 2017-18 Budget will be submitted Feb. 9 and will be adopted March 23. By charter, the City must host a public hearing between the time the budget is submitted and when it is adopted. The City goes above and beyond the charter requirements and holds at least three hearings around the City for residents to attend. Most hearings are held on Saturday mornings. The City also looks to hold sessions on some weekdays to accommodate various schedules. This year, budget hearings will be held on Feb. 18, Feb. 25, and March 4. This all should sound like typical, local government stuff – because it is, but it is the best kind. It is all about transparency, responsiveness and the City working together to facilitate these qualities. The hearings are really a reflection of our culture and our values.
At each session attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem and the City Council. They will also receive an overview of the submitted document from the Budget Officer, and learn of many ways to access the budget and how to interactively engage with budget data. All attendees will have the option to speak directly to the council and general public, too.
The hearings are all budget-centric and the Budget Office is required to support them. But, it takes many more than just budget folks to make these forums happen. City Communications, Council administrative professionals and the KCPD all work together. Parks and Recreation and General Services often take an active role in hosting the events. Inevitably, strong coordination among workgroups makes for the best final product.
The Budget Hearings are also typically well attended by department heads and staff. Nearly every department is represented at each session. Some employees may be “voluntold”, but most are there because City of Kansas City employees care about their departments, the City and our community. Staff is always there to answer formal and informal questions from the public. We always have each others’ back. For some reason, late evening weekdays at budget hearings and community events are when we feel the most like a City staff community. The feeling is the strongest when, at the end of the event, the Council or the City Manager asks for all staff to stand. I usually remember why I’m proud to work for our transparent, responsive, dedicated City at that time.