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County of Fresno – Budget Workshop Story

Case Story

Community:County of Fresno

Population: 176,969

Summary: Workshops Address Service Priorities

In this southern Central Valley community, a county supervisor organized a series of public workshops to involve the community in a thorny budget battle. The conversations unfolded against the backdrop of a campaign that pitted public safety against social services as a budget priority.

Working with community leaders, the county hosted a series of public workshops in churches throughout the county to discuss what it would mean to residents if the county cut social services. At the meetings, department heads gave brief overviews of their programs so the public could learn who was competing for which scarce resources. Many people had not known about the proposed cuts, and residents were given the opportunity to share comments or ask questions.

The supervisor believes the effort resulted in a more balanced reporting of these issues by the media and informed many residents about the proposed budget cuts for the first time. This was the first time that the county budget discussion was moved outside city hall, and the supervisor reports that residents were “happy and impressed that we went out to the community to inform them and ask for their input. It helped to open peoples’ eyes to the fact that we are all in the same boat.”

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