The city of Branson is in the process of making its 2020 budget. From water and sewer rates to police and fire protection, parks and recreation, and much more it will impact every citizen and business in Branson. Melody Pettit, the Communications Manager City of Branson, encourages public involvement in all phases of the city government. She said, “This would be a good opportunity to educate the public about the budget process, how it works, and how we use ‘priority based budgeting.’”
Branson used priority based budgeting
Branson uses “Priority Based Budgeting” (PBB) instead of the traditional “Incremental Budgeting.” Jamie Rouch, Finance Director for the city of Branson, said that “priority-based budgeting “is when you set your goals and then budget dollars back to meet those goals. Those goals and their priority are a function of the “Community Plan” that, with public participation, was put in place about a decade ago.
The Community Plan was used to establish ten primary goals. They are Community Character; Arts, Culture, & Education; Safety Health & Socioeconomic, Economic Development; Infrastructure & Environment; Tourism; Parks, Open Space & Recreation; Land Use; Transportation; and Good Governance.
The budget provides funding in the appropriate areas to achieve the respective goal. For instance, the 2018 Budget $15.1 million was in the budget to meet the Infrastructure & Environment goal. Each budget line expenditure is for a specific item within that goal such as Recycling Processing, Bio Solids Processing, and Water Plant Operations.
Branson’s budgeting process is a multi-month process
According to information received from Rauch, typically the budget approval process starts in May when the Finance Director distributes budget documents to the city departments for their initial input. It ends in November when the Board of Alderman receive the proposed budget, review it, and approve it. During the process, there are numerous reviews including a review by the City Administrator and Finance Director before sending it to the city’s Finance Committee for consideration.
The Finance Committee will review the 2020 Budget on Sep. 26. On Sep. 17 a request was sent to Pettit, for the answers to some budget questions and requesting an interview with Rauch. She set up the meeting saying, “However, since they are in the middle of that process, and nothing is finalized yet, she will not be able to discuss specifics like which departments are in the for the biggest increase/decrease. The same goes for water/sewer rates. We are in the middle of that process and nothing is finalized.”
Public participation invited in the budgeting process
Both Pettit and Rouch urge public participation in the budget process. They point out that the public is invited to attend any of the Finance Committee or other related committee meetings at any time. Pettit said, “You and the public are invited to the Sep. 26 Finance committee meeting at 10 a.m. in the courtroom. There you will be able to hear a summary of the 2020 budget.”
After the Finance Committee review, the Finance and Capital Improvement Committees meet with the Board of Aldermen for a Budget Workshop. Depending on the recommendation of the Budget Workshop, the Finance Director will make final adjustments to the proposed budget. Then a special public budget meeting is held before submitting it to the Board of Aldermen for consideration and approval at their November meeting. Pettit said that the meeting would be held on Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. at the convention center.
The Branson Board of Aldermen will receive the proposed 2020 budget for their consideration during their November meeting.
Branson citizens and businesses are encouraged to sign up for “e-notifications.”
Pettit encourages all the citizens and businesses of Branson “to sign up for “e-notifications.” You can sign up to get notified for any meetings and their agenda’s when they become available. You can sign up here: http://bransonmo.gov/list.aspx. This is where residents can also sign up to get meting alerts for all city boards and committees and can also sign up to get news alerts from City Hall, Parks & Rec, the Branson Police Department and the Fire Department.