City of Redding – Budget Advisory Committees Story
Community:City of Redding (Shasta County)
Summary: City Manager’s Budget Committee
To help prepare Redding’s biennial budget, the city manager in this Northern California community asks residents to volunteer to serve on the city manager’s budget committee. The manager selects two community members with some experience in budgeting and knowledge of city government to participate in a series of department staff meetings and provide recommendations.
The selected residents learn about agency finances and long-term plans through meetings with management and finance staff. This includes meeting with each department head, learning about specific budget issues and proposed budgets, asking questions and making suggestions using assessment forms. Although budget recommendations ultimately rest with the city manager, the advisors’ perspectives are influential.
Responsibilities of the budget committee members include:
- Doing the homework and reviewing several thick binders of material that include issue papers and budget details;
- Actively participating in meetings; and
- Sharing their perspectives on the budget with elected officials at the end of the process.
One staff member said, “The budget advisory process made some staff very nervous, especially because we were inviting community leaders who had been critical of the city in the past. But they found that when you give reasonable people the same information, they generally come to similar decisions if they’ve come to the process with an open mind.”
Staff members report that this process helped improve the agency’s relationship with the business community and enhanced public trust in general. It has also provided a mechanism for streamlining the public hearing process on the budget.