Castle Pines North
The Colorado municipal budget cycle starts in earnest for the city on October 15 with the presentation of the budget by the treasurer to council. The budget must then be approved by council by December 15.
Over the past several months the city, with the help of CH2M HILL OMI, has been assembling the first annual city budget. Considerable data has been collected and validated on cost drivers such as numbers of lane miles of streets and roads, types of traffic signals, and costs of administration departments such as community development and public works. The overriding goal of these efforts has been to gain a full understanding of cost drivers and find ways to improve on past services.
Through this process some interesting preliminary conclusions have emerged. As a new city, Castle Pines North will be in a position to increase levels of service in many areas, while still abiding by the pre-incorporation pledge of not increasing property taxes. Some of these improvements have already been seen. Community development, or planning, functions have received very positive reviews for quick turnaround times for submissions and very thorough staff reports.
One of the next targets is public works. Based on early estimates, the city should be in a position to provide equal or better street maintenance to that received from Douglas County. More importantly, the city will spend up to 50 percent more than the County for capital projects to fund badly needed repairs and upgrades to streets, intersections, and roads. The city’s public works operations cost per lane mile appear to be around 25 percent less than those of Douglas County.
The budget is being designed to be transparent from both a financial and an operational perspective. The financial transparency comes from ensuring that all budgeted amounts are reported in the proper categories as required by accounting principals. Operational transparency, something not always a part of governmental budgeting, will come from the inclusion of explicit service levels and performance measurement. The city was founded with the idea of implementing high performance government shown through detailed performance metrics. This first budget is an important step in reaching that goal.
To date, none of the City officials--including city council, the mayor, the clerk, and the treasurer--have been paid for their work in setting up the City. All the hundreds of hours of work of the nine elected officials have been totally voluntary without any pay. Even out-of-pocket expenses have not been reimbursed. At this time, the 2009 city budget does not include any pay for these elected officials. If some pay is included in the future, it will be only minimal thereby reflecting a continuation of the spirit of public service of all the elected officials.
Over the next several weeks, city officials will hold a series of meetings to discuss the budget and the approach to financial and operational transparency. Our hope is that, through this open and transparent process, we will raise the game for governmental budgets.
Contact Doug Gilbert at Contact by email .