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Gardeners need to master Roanoke’s outcome-based financial planning process.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Virginia Cooperative Extension sowed its annual weed into the financial plan plotted by Roanoke’s budgeting for outcomes process. The extra $10,000 that Roanoke City Council has agreed to give the extension service will not wreck the budget, but it allows a prickly thorn to crop up yet again.
No doubt the extension provides valuable programs to city residents, as expressed by the parade of supporters who turned out yet again to plead for full funding. Now if only the organization could master the city’s budgeting process.
Roanoke turned to the budgeting for outcomes process to weed the politicking out of funding. Rather than fund government in the traditional way — doing what the city did last year, adding a little more or subtracting a little less, depending on the economy — council takes a hard look at the city’s priorities. Teams then define and rank the services needed to meet those priorities and accept offers from city departments and outside agencies.
After several years of doing it this way, all outside agencies seeking human services or arts funding have grasped the concept and made offers based on how they best can provide the services the city seeks to purchase. All, that is, except the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Its application scored 20 out of 100 points, ranking not only ninth out of nine scored for outside agency offers but last of all offers received across the seven priorities. Budget planners recommended funding of $57,267, a $10,000 decrease from this year.
This reduction prompted more than a dozen supporters to plead with council for restoration of funding. It isn’t that Roanoke doesn’t value or seek the types of programs the service offers. In fact, the Roanoke Community Garden Association for the first time received $10,000. And the extension offers a wide array of educational programs the city values. But the service has not yet mastered the budgeting process that requires it to show, for example, that helping people capture rainwater for use in their garden coincides with the city’s desire to reduce storm water runoff.
A new memo of understanding between the city and the extension service should yield better communication so this perennial thorn in the budgeting process is shorn.
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