I asked all the council members if I could interview them. Crystal declined the interview but did send me a long email response below. I give her kudos for responding at all after the posts I have written about her – very gracious on her part.
From: Gray, Crystal [mailto:GrayC@bouldercolorado.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 8:54 AM
To: David Thielen
Subject: RE: Interview request (free lunch)
Dave: I will pass on the offer for lunch but send me any questions and I will be happy to reply.
The budget process has evolved during the time I have been on council
(2003) when a few of us characterized the process as a 'black box' - council was presented with a budget by the manager with little room to make changes. The city charter establishes the managers responsibility to prepare the budget and present it to council within a certain time frame but it does not prescribe the process for the manager to accomplish this. To Manager Frank Bruno's credit (listening to the 'black box' comments) he developed a budget process that included frequent check in with council on the policy direction, and priorities, that should be reflected in the budget. This took place during the 2004 budget when we cut $18 million. Manager Jane Brautigam has added pubic input into this process. Public meetings for the manager to gather input, before she develops her budget, are scheduled for May 11, 6:30 pm at Fairview and May 21, 6:30 pm at the West Senior Center.
The manager has already presented Council, and the community, with her Stabilization Strategies that address revenue reductions and the resulting expenditure reductions. You can access this on the city home page under Announcements, Budget information.
I support many of the strategies she has proposed and feel that some are long over due.
In addition to this process the manager invited council to participate in a session with David Osborne who wrote a number of books dealing with reinventing government and budgeting for results. I am sure you will see more of this approach reflected in Boulder's budgeting. I also support programatic budgeting so the public, and elected officials, can actually track budgets by specific programs and tie them into goals, accomplishments and measures.
As for the other major tasks ahead - the council sets goals at the beginning of the year and those are merged with the staff work program.
We have a full work program ahead (this is listed in detail in the back of our meeting packets that are available on line), in addition to the four council goal areas, that includes defining the direction of the Climate Action Plan, completing a number of planning issues, and reviewing master plans that are in process.
Council has also decided to dedicate time to work on projects with the community to highlight the good work that goes on in the community and to build partnerships with the community. This involves no staff time and we completed our first project by working last Saturday at the Marine Street EFFA site improving their playground and doing yard work.
The manager also volunteered and shoveled many loads of gravel to make the play ground safer.
Hope this helps.