Deadline Monday for county budget challenge
November 30, 2012
Mandee Guariglia has lived in Carson Valley for 14 years.
She and her husband have two boys, and she works part-time.
Despite her busy schedule, Guariglia took time out Thursday to participate in the Douglas County budget challenge at the Minden library branch.
“It sounded like a good idea, to put your voice where you want taxpayers money to go,” she said.
Guariglia spent about 15 minutes on a computer provided by the county allocating a fictional $500 to various county programs.
“It’s a good thing I’m not in charge of budgets,” she said, as she figured out where to allocate the money. “It gets you thinking.”
She invested most of the money in public safety.
“I put money to keep the area safe, for preventative measures. And to preserve the land. I don’t want us to become overrun with cement slabs and empty buildings.”
Guariglia was assisted by county management analyst Kathy Lewis, but said she found the process easy to understand.
“I don’t think people speak up enough nowadays,” Guariglia said. “Our elected officials don’t know what you want if you don’t speak up.”
Residents have until 5 p.m. Monday to complete the Douglas County Budget Challenge on the county Web site.
The results will be presented to county commissioners at a special meeting 1 p.m. Dec. 10.
Commissioners will review the results of the survey and work done by county departments and elected officials to identify and prioritize programs on Dec. 10.
“We greatly appreciate everyone who has participated in the budget challenge and encourage those who have not to please consider doing so before 5 p.m. on Monday,” said Christine Vuletich, assistant county manager and chief financial officer.
The said the most consistent investment by taxpayers has been “reliable, well-maintained infrastructure” – that includes parks, transportation, roads, water, and stormwater management, Vuletich said.
She said Guariglia’s reaction to the process was typical.
“That’s what everyone says,” Vuletich said, referring to the complexities of budgeting. “People have made very thoughtful and interesting comments.”
Priorities the county focused on include economic vitality, growth and development, natural environment, resources and cultural heritage, infrastructure, safe community and financial stability.
The online forum is run by Peak Democracy, a company whose mission is to broaden civic engagement in local government.
Douglas County is getting national attention for its effort after the International City/County Manager’s Association published an item in its newsletter about the county’s outreach.
“So far, the feedback we have received for people who have completed the budget challenge has been very positive,” Vuletich said. “I think it is likely that the county will be using this online forum for other topics in the future as well.”
The budget challenge is part of the county’s implementation of priority-based budgeting for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Under the direction of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, Douglas County began preparations a year ago to move away from traditional across-the-board cuts.
“Targeted cuts require a serious discussion of community values, relative benefits of different services, and long-term implications,” according to the center.
COUNTY BUDGET CHALLENGE
Go to http://www.douglascountynv.gov, and select “Budget Challenge” on the left side of the screen. Complete the on-line registration. Registration information is secure and will not be shared with any outside party. The physical address will allow responses from geographic areas within the county to be viewed, but the county and public cannot see the names of individual participants.
A community workshop is 1 p.m. Dec. 10, Emergency Operations Center, 1694 County Road, Minden, to review results.
Participants can choose from:
— Quick Version (estimated completion time 5 minutes), distribute your $500 among the six community results, or establish new priorities.
— Extended Version (estimated completion time 15 minutes), distribute your $500 to more detailed sub-results within each community result or establish new priorities.