|RP works on new ZBB budget
It was a year ago when the City of Rohnert Park changed its budget procedures under new City Manager Gabe Gonzalez. Now, the city council has another changed budget format, this one called Zero-Base Budgeting, or simply ZBB. The former line item budgets are a thing of the past.
Tuesday afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m., the council started work on the 2012-13 ZBB budget with the help of Gonzalez, Finance Director Cathy Orme along with most department heads, Brian Masterson, Darrin Jenkins, John McArthur and Economic Development Manager Linda Babonis.
“Mayor Jake Mackenzie set the tone up front: This is a workshop and we’re not taking action.”
Orme described the process.
“The basic premise is that managers build their budget from the ground up, starting from zero. In addition, each budget request must be justified, regardless of the previous year’s budget. Also, ZBB requires managers to increase focus on projected expenditures.”
Her rationale for the ZBB was in previous years the traditional line item budget was an adequate method “when the city doing well financially because revenues were steady and/or increasing annually.
“Today, neither of these two factors are applicable, thus the need to take a different approach to our budget process.”
Added Gonzalez, “Put simply, this city’s budget, even once adopted, is an ongoing work in progress…not just any budget process, but Zero-based Budgeting.”
For an example of how ZBB works, let’s use the Animal Shelter, part of the Dept. of Public Safety’s function. The shelter gets more visits from residents than does city hall or the DPS on a yearly basis.
Mickey Zeldes, shelter manager, has to write up mandated services, such as basic animal control, core services such as the facility itself, spay and neuter programs and pet licenses, and alternative options like public education and community outreach. She also has to cite “revenue opportunities” like adoptions, donations, fines and fees, grants and fundraisers.
In addition department heads have to list accomplishments of the past budget year and major goals for 2012-13.
Each of the department heads has to do the same work and present it for scrutiny by the city council as the final step.
The budget must be ready by the end of June and the council will tackle it again May 22.