Zero-based budget: Phoenix creates best model in nation - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Zero-based budget: Phoenix creates best model in nation

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Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012 5:09 pm | Updated: 2:12 pm, Tue May 1, 2012.

‘Being better is not good enough in this global economy, and we must not settle for being one of the best. Phoenix must be known for being the best at everything we do,” I have said.

I believe Phoenix should always strive to be the best at everything we do. Being just better and being one of the best no longer works in this world market.

Our city of Phoenix is about to become the best in its presentation of the budget using a zero-based approach.

As you know the past two years I have been pushing very hard for reform. It has been a difficult, but necessary step to getting our city ready for this new economic climate.

Zero-based budgeting is critical for transparency and a necessary step toward reforms that will make our city more responsive to the needs of you and your family. This is a significant step forward.

Phoenix is in the middle of budget season, and if it all goes as well as promised, the city will have a much more open and transparent approach to how it raises and distributes your hard-earned tax dollars.

At the request of the City Council and led by Councilwoman Thelda Williams, Phoenix for the first time will have all programs city-wide provided in a zero-based budgeting format. Every year our budget starts at zero and all spending must be justified. Previously, the city budget presented to the community and City Council reflected only the proposed changes to existing programs and services.

You can see how that makes it hard to track. This new system should make it much easier for citizens and policy makers to follow. Some of the features include:

• Detailed budget and summary of all city programs.

• Earlier cost estimates than previously.

• Total compensation costs, which have been rising steadily — even during the recession.

• Sources of funds and the allocation of costs for each department and program, adding clarity on how services are funded.

• Staffing for each program.

• Comparison of actual spending year over year rather than just budgeted spending — a more relevant number for comparison.

There are other features. It creates a better and open process. I’ve also asked the budget department to use words that the public uses, such as “sales tax” vs. the insider lingo “transaction privilege tax.”

As I mentioned above, zero-based budgeting is a significant step forward. But we must continue to do more. You have my commitment that I will continue to do more to push our city forward.

I currently co-chair a committee, along with Councilman Tom Simplot, making Phoenix the best place in the country for job creation and retention.

For too long, government has stood in the way of the private sector. Our committee will be creating the best model in the nation that streamlines our job creation process and cuts the months of delay to less than a day.

• Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

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