Heeding Demands, City Devises Ways to Track Spending, Efficiency

In an effort to help the City Council be more effective with the dollars it budgets for each of the municipal departments, City Hall has developed a comprehensive Operational Plan and Priority Initiatives Action Plan to serve as tools.
The Operational Plan serves to provide the “operation metrics” frequently called for during last year’s budgeting process, especially by Councilman Ken Ude. It dives into the day-to-day operations of each department based on their responsibilities. The Priority Initiatives plan, conversely, will highlight the progress of one-time or special projects that the City Council typically orders of municipal staff (for example, the revamping of the city’s website).
According to the summary in City Manager Marcella Marlowe’s report given at a special meeting last week, the two plans together “capture the work being done by each department this year.”
“As we finished the budget process last year, obviously there were many improvements we wanted to implement,” she said at the meeting. “Moving forward, this is one of them. We didn’t have a good way to summarize that for you last year and give you the necessary information to make decisions whether this was an appropriate amount of money.”
The presentation of the two items comes ahead of the city’s launch of the software Envisio, a strategic planning and performance management program designed for use by government entities. The program will ultimately present the Priority Initiative plan on the city’s website for residents to access and follow the progress of projects.
Ude welcomed the presentation and urged that the programming be tailored to avoid information overload, which he acknowledged was “funny coming from me,” given his mantra of needing the operational metrics in the past.
“As we get through the budget process [we need to ask], ‘What are those three to six things that will really move the needle?’” Ude said. “With the amount of activities, it’s also useful to know how much time is spent in each of the activities. That will help us in the budgeting process to really throw
money at the places that are
Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey said she hoped that the reports would indicate how each department interacts with the public moving forward and that the Priority Initiatives plan would archive project reports even after completion.
“I’d like to see that tracked and be part of this, so we can look back two years from now and see that this department handled something in this way and it was effective,” she said.
Marlowe replied that she had good news: Envisio already does this.
“You’ll see in here that these are literally each step in the priority initiative and how it was done,” Marlowe said on “memorializing” past projects.
Marlowe’s presentation was for informational purposes only and no action was needed. She added that Envisio’s public launch was “super close” and that all of the required data has already been input.

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