By Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It’s somewhat of a tradition for the Charlottesville City Council to hold a special meeting every year to formally adopt the City’s budget. Usually the meeting takes less than five minutes as the details of the budget have already been ironed out through various work sessions.
This year, however, Council will need to decide one final component in the City Manager’s proposed budget. Staff has recommended that a new position of Performance Analyst be created to supervise and coordinate a performance management program called the P3 initiative which has been in place since the summer of 2008. The idea is to develop specific business plans for each department, develop a way to measure performance to guide management decisions, as well as a comprehensive reporting system.
The ultimate goal, according to the City, is to improve transparency while creating a budget process where what gets funded is based on what will lead to the desired results. The draft budget contains a line item for $120,000 to fund the position in its first year
The City’s recent
Quality of Service and Efficiency Study
described the position as follows:
Financial and Performance Manager
The City does not have an independent internal Financial and Performance Manager position or program. The City does have a viable system of checks and balances in place within departments to protect the taxpayers’ money. No organized and systematic non-departmental programs exist to check financial transactions or performance measurement that are independent of departments. Ideally, the Financial and Performance Manager should be a separate department report¬ing to the City Manager. The Financial and Performance Manager would develop a risk assessment system that sets auditing priorities for both the City and Schools. The costs of this program should be equally shared between the City and Schools. An example of a three-year risk-assessed financial and performance program is included in the appendix. In the short and long run a Financial and Performance Manager department will actually pay for itself through revealed performance improvements, savings and detection of wrongdoing.
Council is expected to see a full report on the P3 initiative at its May 4 meeting, according to Budget Director Leslie Beauregard.
Before the Council voted on the first reading of the budget at its April 6, 2009 meeting, Councilor
asked if the position were still in the budget. He said he had thought Council had removed the position from consideration during budget work sessions. City Manager Gary O’Connell said that he didn’t receive any clear direction from Council.
questioned if the program would bring any accountability program, but said she would be willing to take a risk to see if the position could yield results.
“This position may be an opportunity to really explore how we can be better stewards of our money,” Edwards said.
said that he wasn’t in favor of funding the position because of the economic downturn. Councilor
said he also could not support the position out of a concern that the economic slowdown could get worse.
Edwards defended the position, and asked what the City would do to increase efficiency without someone to oversee it. Huja said that each City department should be responsible for increasing their own efficiency.
O’Connell said because of the economic downturn is affecting outside agencies that work with the City, City departments may be taking on more of that work and will not have time to concentrate on making efficiency improvements.
Mayor Dave Norris said that he had initially thought that the position would not be necessary, but that he has had a change of heart.
“I’ve been more inclined lately, given what we as a Council has been asking staff to do in terms of delving into the finances and the operations of a number of the major agencies that we fund to figure out how our dollars can be better spent,” Norris said. “I don’t know who on City staff is going to be able to do that in addition to the work that they’re doing now.”
Brown said that aspect of the job description was news to him, and had not been discussed during the work session.
“It’s kind of late in the game to be presenting new reasons why you need an additional staff person,” Brown said. He said he wanted to see the idea written down before making a decision on whether or not he would support the position. O’Connell agreed, and Council will make a decision tonight.