From a “vision” to “blazing new trails,” Gardner is in its fourth year of priority based budgeting.
June 20 staff updated the Gardner City Council on the 2017 budget initiatives. Priority based budgeting is a multi-year results based planning process.
This year’s strategic priorities are to:
• promote economic development;
• improve quality of life;
• improve fiscal stewardship: and
• increase infrastructure/asset management.
Residents have been encouraged to participate in the process both through an online survey last April and a Town Hall meeting.
“We need your feedback,” said Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, at the February Town Hall meeting. At that time, she stressed the importance of communication between city hall and citizens, and said, “The governing body needs feedback from staff, and staff needs feedback from the governing body. At the end of the day this is a partnership, and we all want a better community.”
Input from citizens was included in the June 20 update.
Residents will have an additional opportunity for input at the July 18 budget hearing. The budget will be adopted in August, 2016.
A cyclical planning tool, with priority based budgeting each year’s initiatives are built upon the plans or achievements from previous years.
In 2013-2014, the first year under priority based budgeting, the city focused on “Vision: Determining a Roadmap for Our Destination;” and the key initiatives were the Comprehensive Plan and Economic Development Strategy.
In 2014-2105, “A Roadmap for Building a Community” built upon the prior year and brought utility and pavement assessments, vehicle replacements and building a three year plan to build a high performance work force, including salary adjustments and merit pay.
“Growth by Choice or by Chance” in 2015-2016 including facilitating economic opportunities through infrastructure development, constructing a salt storage facility, continued wage adjustments, purchasing vehicles and the rehabilitation of the senior building.