Council Budget Process

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.

Council Budget Process

Postby Steve Adler » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:27 pm

Download a PDF of this post: ... 142421.pdf

Council Member colleagues,

Here is a suggested approach to this year’s 2017-18 Council Budget Process. This suggestion contains changes that were raised by Council Members. Please post further changes or modifications. We’ll discuss the process we’ll use when we get back together following the break.

• City Manager presents proposed budget on August 2

• City staff will maintain a running Concept Menu, containing budget concepts that Council Members want considered. The Concept Menu will:
-- Be organized around the six strategic goals.
-- Contain, as before, subsections for concepts that (a) increase the budget and those that would (b) reduce the budget. There will also be a section that addresses financial changes (such as changes in reserves, etc.

• After the Manager delivers the proposed budget, any Council Member may submit budget concepts without co-sponsors through August 23rd.
-- The reason for a deadline is to allow our staff to have time to provide cost and relevant information related to our budget concept proposals and so that concepts can be day lighted for the community to see and engage. However, it is understood that we can submit budget concepts up until budget approval.

• Staff will be continually updating the concept menu with Council’s proposed budget concepts.

• The Concept Menu will initially be populated with unfunded resolutions.

• The Budget Concept menu will be posted on-line.

• Budget questions will also be posted online along with responses.

• Concept Menu items and Budget questions that require extensive analysis and workload will be identified by staff so that the Council with prior notice, can indicate whether the question or concept has the general support to have the staff spend the time needed on vetting or answering the item.

• Department budget work sessions will occur on August 9, August 16, and August 23.
-- Staff is not planning in having each department present their proposed budgets as has been done in the past. Instead, it is contemplated to have a more substantive policy or specific item discussion of the budget at our work sessions.

• Council will try to do a better job of “managing” the Concept Menu by discussing items listed and by moving items off the list that do not have the support to continue being “on the table.”
-- To manage the menu, the process envisioned is using a fist-to-five process. (A fist-to-five process is a good tool to determine what each Council member’s opinion is at any given time.) These are the elements of the fist-to-five process:
- Fist – a no vote – a way to move something off the list. “I need to talk more on the proposal and require changes for it to pass.”
- 1 Finger – “I still need to discuss certain issues and suggest changes that should be made.”
- 2 Fingers – “I am more comfortable with the proposal but would like to discuss some minor issues.”
- 3 Fingers – “I’m not in total agreement but feel comfortable to let this proposal pass without further discussion.”
- 4 Fingers – “I think it’s a good idea and will work for it.”
- 5 Fingers – “It’s a great idea and I will be one of the leaders in implementing it.”
-- If anyone holds up fewer than three fingers, they should be given the opportunity to state their position or objections and the Council should discuss their concerns.
-- The Council will continue the Fist-to-Five process until they achieve consensus (a minimum of three fingers or higher) or determine they must move on to the next budget concept proposal.

• Public Hearings will be held on Budget, Tax Rate and Utility rates (August 17 and August 31).
-- At that time we can also receive public feedback on the Council’s budget concepts through the concept menu, available to the public since it’s posted.

• A pre-budget adoption work session will be held on August 30.
-- Prior to this meeting, Council Members can post suggested starting points for a “budget package.”
- I’ve done this the last couple years, but certainly others could offer such packages as well.
- It is suggested that such budget packages be framed as changes to the Mgr.’s budget, as it may have been amended, indicating budget additions, reductions, and changes in revenue.

• Budget readings will be held on September 11-13

Please post comments on this suggested process. Thanks.

Steve Adler
Posts: 146
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:12 pm

Re: Council Budget Process

Postby Ann Kitchen » Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:10 pm


Thank you for posting the suggested approach to our budget process this year. The process works well and is intended to provide more transparency for the public and each of us - as we work together with staff to finalize the budget.

The proposed process works well and I have only a few questions/comments:

1) I agree that organizing the Concept Menu around the six strategic goals is important and would want CMs to identify those goals when placing items on the Concept Menu. I am also hoping that the City Manager will present a budget that is organized in some fashion around the six strategic goals. We are early in our implementation process, but we need to have some understanding when we adopt the budget how the budget relates to accomplishing the goals we have established.

2) The Fist-to-Five approach is a useful way to discuss Concept Menu items and could help us reach consensus and refine ideas. However, the proposal states that the process will "move items off the list that do not have support." Please clarify how a Concept Menu item is moved off the list? If anyone does not reach consensus (that is if all CMs do not raise at least three fingers after discussion) actually requires more agreement than a vote would - and while very useful for discussion, would not work for removing an item from the list.

My suggestion would be to focus on the Fist-to-Five approach and see how that helps with reaching consensus/refining idea. At this point I think that discussion is more important to the process than removing items from the List.

3) I suggest we set a date for beginning the discussion process for the Concept Menu - so we have some clarity. My suggestion would be August 30th, which allows time for at least one public hearing before we begin discussing.

4) After August 23rd, would we move to requiring 4 co-sponsors to add an item to the Concept Menu?

Best Regards

Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5
Ann Kitchen
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:04 pm

Return to City of Austin Council Message Board

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests