Exploration of participant spending priorities was accomplished through open-ended comments in qualitative research sessions, in-person events and through the online Budget Simulator. In addition to open-ended comments, the online Budget Simulator allowed citizens to weigh service change implications against tax rate implications in consideration of the composition of the property tax-supported municipal budget. For a detailed review of engagement specific to priorities for spending and services please see spending service priorities and spending service priorities graphs.
While individual budget submissions reflected the entire possible spectrum of changes presented in the tool, on average the aggregate change to The City’s over-all tax supported budget was 5.22 percent increase per year which was similar to the Maintain Services Scenario at 5.3 percent increase per year. Figure below shows the averaged results of all individual budget submissions received in the online budget simulator.
Comment submissions related to spending are reflected in the Key Observations on taxes and spending efficiencies noted in the preceding section. That is, modest tax rate increases to maintain services is preferred to reducing services. Also noted was the desire to see greater effort put into demonstrating value for taxes and spending efficiencies, as well as a recognition about the impact of property taxes to lower or fixed-income households. For a detailed review of engagement specific to comment submissions please see engagement discussions.
Key Observations on budget submissions
Value on external-facing services. Consistently, internal-facing services saw a larger on average decrease than external-facing services.
Budget distribution across services. Larger average decreases were applied to comparatively smaller areas of the budget, minimizing impact to the overall budget.
Preferences by geography (Ward-by-ward comparison). While there is definitely variation between individual wards on spending priorities, these do not appear in well-defined patterns based on geography. Furthermore while 78% of total budget simulator submissions included location information, this tool was not structured to ensure that results reflect ward-wide perspectives.