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Business plans and budgets 2012-2014: stakeholder engagement

As part of the new approach to business planning and budgeting, citizens, city employees and organizations were invited to participate in the Our City. Our Budget. Our Future. engagement process. More than 23,000 participants provided their input from February to May 2011.

How engagement input was used

On June 28, 2011, a summary of the engagement results was presented to Council. Considering the engagement results and the information Council received in previous June strategic planning meetings, Council confirmed its Fiscal Plan for Calgary and approved indicative tax rates based on municipal inflation and population growth.

Together, Council's Fiscal Plan and the approved indicative tax rates provided Administration with the necessary direction to prepare the proposed 2012-2014 business plans and budgets for Council’s budget deliberation. On Nov. 26, Council approved the 2012-2014 business plans and budgets.

What we heard

Two main themes were identified in the results of the Our City. Our Budget. Our Future. engagement process:

  • Citizens value City services and do not want to see reductions in services.
  • Citizens do not want status quo – they want The City to focus on service priorities and deliver services in a more efficient way.

Administration demonstrated its commitment to these themes in a number of ways:

  • Committing to find $45 million in productivity gains over the 2012-2014 budget cycle;
  • Beginning and participating in a more open, transparent and inclusive engagement process as part of the development of the proposed business plans and budget;
  • Allotting more time to Council strategic sessions and for the development of Council’s Fiscal Plan for Calgary; and,
  • Developing the new process and documentation for the 2012-2014 business plans and budgets

Other themes that emerged from the engagement results include:

  • Measure performance and focus on continuous improvement
  • Communicate in a transparent, complete and accessible way
  • Focus on long-term planning and sustainable decision-making
  • Increase financial restraint and control spending
  • Transform the organizational culture
  • Govern collaboratively and empower communities
  • Engage more, listen, and be inclusive

A summary of the engagement results was presented to Council on June 28, 2011. Detailed reports on what participants said throughout the engagement process are also available.

The engagement process

From February to May 2011, the three-phased engagement process gathered information from more than 23,000 citizens, employees and Council about the most valued City services and priorities, and how budget dollars should be allocated to provide the services Calgarians want now and for the future.

Phase I: Everybody’s Business invited participants to provide input on how they would like be involved and what would make public engagement a success through community workshops, employee workshops and an online survey open to everyone between February 23 and March 4.

Phase II: Understanding Values and Priorities focused on the values and priorities citizens have for City services. Between March 16 and April 16, participants provided their input through a number of ways including budget kit hosting workshops, community-hosted budget kit conversations, completing budget kits in hardcopies or online, and submitting and weighing-in on other participants’ ideas online.

Phase III: Making Choices that Matter built on the dialogue about values and priorities and encouraged citizens to consider the pros, cons and trade-offs they are willing to make to deliver the City services they value. From May 6 to May 27, participants provided their input through budget allocation workshops for citizens and employees, All Our Ideas online and an online budget allocation tool.

New processes for providing feedback to Council

The City provided two new processes to enhance citizens’ ability to provide comments to Council during the 2012-2014 business plans and budgets deliberation period.

  1. Pre-registration - Citizens wanting to address Council in person were able pre-register a presentation time using an online form or by calling 3-1-1. Eighteen citizens took advantage of this new opportunity to register ahead of time to speak instead of waiting to find out what order they speak in on the day. Citizens who did not pre-register were still able to speak during budget deliberations by registering on the speaking list on Nov. 21 at Council Chambers.
  2. Online feedback - Citizens were able to provide their comments online by completing a Business Plans and Budgets 2012-2014 Feedback Form on calgary.ca. More than 100 citizens submitted their comments online, which were collected and considered as part of public submissions to Council.