Hyattsville officials began their budget process by first identifying whether the city is meeting standards outlined in 2009, from police dispatch times right down to the amount of current sidewalk space.
“What we’re trying to do is go back to where we were two years ago,” Hyattsville Mayor Marc Tartaro said at a budget meeting Monday. “Where you do goals and objectives and figure out where we want to go and take that and figure out how we want to go about the budget. We’re trying to get back to that process.”
The budget process is expected to take months, wrapping up with approval from the City Council by April 23. The city’s budget for fiscal 2012 was roughly $22 million, as was fiscal 2011’s budget. A set amount for fiscal 2013 is still to be determined.
Tartaro said that reviewing citywide goals, priorities and objectives — using standards and goals outlined in 2009 — is the first step to the budgeting process, to see where resources need to go and what needs the most attention. Many of the 2009 goals and actions have been placed into the fiscal 2013 plan, removing some items that have been achieved, such as broadcasting all City Council meetings, and adding others. Tartaro said identifying the goals and measures is a good way to begin the budget process before looking at monetary allocation.
The city has scheduled continued discussions of citywide goals, objectives and performance measures for the Feb. 6, Feb. 13 and Feb. 21 council meetings, encouraging residents to attend for public input, according to the city’s website.
The city’s five draft goals for fiscal 2013 are to ensure transparent and accessible governance, to ensure the long-term health of the city, enhance a safe and pleasant community and strengthen the city’s identity as a diverse creative and welcoming community. The council has also developed a list of performance measures that accompany each goal as a way to see if they are meeting quotas and achieving such goals.
Under the goal to ensure the long-term health of the city, the council agreed to measure the number of linear feet of sidewalk and bike lanes installed as a way to promote alternative means of transportation. Within the goal to enhance a safe and pleasant community, the council agreed to measure the number of incidents dispatched for the Hyattsville Police Department and the hours used for dispatched calls, measurements that were adopted from 2009 to track city safety and police department resources.
“This is another way of matching efforts to outcomes,” said Councilwoman Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1).
Setting specific benchmarks and obtainable goals for these performance measures are to be determined during the budget process.
City Treasurer Elaine Stookey said the performance measures will evaluate programs and motivate the city to continually improve.
“What performance measurement will do is evaluate efficiency, determine where we want to make improvements and provide direction to employees,” Stookey said. “If we do the structuring correctly, people will start to see how they fit into the big picture.”