April 15, 2013
BUDGETS FORETHOUGHT INTENT: To bring the City into compliance on budgeting as required by State Law
Gone are the giddy days of ever increasing house prices and revenue streams for Cities. Now in its place, is a pervasive sense of lack and limitation The paradigm has shifted - Cities are now in decline.
The lack of political will and understanding of the human dynamics in budgeting, is a major factor in this malaise. Cities ignore the neighborhoods and wonder why the business community is struggling. Excuses and blame are substituted for effective action. The budget equation doesn't balance, if the neighborhoods are not taken into account. They are the ones doing the purchasing.
Understanding the pieces
The City's refusal to follow State Law on Budgeting had profound consequences. Residents were losing 750K per day (208 million annually) in net worth above and beyond the adjacent Cities. This in turn directly impacted businesses as consumers curtailed spending. All of this was avoidable.
The City's failure to grasp how all of the pieces were interconnected, led to problems with neighborhoods. A cost analysis would have shown that it was a good investment to engage problems as they occurred. This would have led to a greater demand for homes in Burien. Prices would have firmed and net worth would have grown. This in turn would have led to greater spending and more revenue for the City from both residents and businesses.
Instead the consequences rippled outward, nothing was unscathed. Businesses experienced a body blow as residents curtailed spending. Jobs were lost, and the cycle spiraled downward.
A City of any size cannot endure these kinds of losses, especially a small one of only 48K, whose average household income is 48K.
City Manager's Report
The City Manager will be responding to my previous request for a due diligence report into the Chase house cleanup. Reports like these are always included in the Council Packet. See tab on COUNCIL PACKETS for a better understanding of how to read these and use them for information.
I was not watching the Council Packet in advance of showing up that evening. This report is going to be read into the public record. I have about 15 minutes to review the report before my turn to speak.
Shaping the conversation
Timing is a key piece here. Public Comment is at the beginning of the meeting, while the City Manager's Report is later.
I chose to take the initiative. I will acknowledge my omission of providing a copy of the bankruptcy filing that has a Judge's signature.
I choose to build on what I see as a positive development: the City is willing to entertain being proactive on Code Enforcement. However, they want to wait until the next budget cycle to begin this process.
I will be engaging the City Manager in a series of questions. They will be of a cost analysis nature on going proactive. The questions are reasonable and pertinent to the report.
The Council has the opportunity to ask further questions, if they choose. I don't have that privilege. The Council is divided on the issue, questions are likely.
There will be very little eye contact on my part while I am talking about budgeting. I am concerned about running out of time. However, when I get to the City Manager's Report, I will be in full contact as I speak. As I concluded my presentation, the City Manager shared his displeasure with me. Although you cannot see me, you can hear my calm thank you.
Tonight, as I start to engage in dialogue, with the City Manager, you will see my breathing exercises starting to work. My voice will become more resonant and the tempo of my speaking will ease.
This is where I start to integrate law in my presentations. Law is easy to read and understand. There is a tab called LAW to assist you.
TEXT OF SPEECH
Washington State Law requires the City to submit Quarterly Report of Status to the City Council. To date not one submission has occurred.
These reports give a snapshot of how the City is doing in regards to its Budget assumptions.
The finance department would be responsible to give the City Council a quarterly report on shortfalls or surpluses in revenue and expenditures and why they were occurring.
These Quarterly Report of Status provide a high level of transparency to the City's financial dealings. Information that the Council does not want the public to know such as how much the White Center annexation really cost would be available to everyone. I believe this would lead to more thoughtful use of our public funds.
Budgets are the basis of sound planning. With planning we can reach our stated goals with certainty.
The new quarter has just started. Today Burien's job is to start compiling the data for the their upcoming presentation to the City Council as mandated by law.
Funds — Quarterly report of status.
At such intervals as may be required by city charter or ordinance, however, being not less than quarterly, the clerk shall submit to the city's legislative body and chief administrative officer a report showing the expenditures and liabilities against each separate budget appropriation incurred during the preceding reporting period and like information for the whole of the current fiscal year to the first day of the current reporting period together with the unexpended balance of each appropriation. The report shall also show the receipts from all sources.
Information for budgeting can be found in State Law. Using Law underscores the cost of inaction.
Policies that the Council maintains are another source of information on budgeting. Pointing out willful disregard of policy directives will create a momentum for change.
Wards and Annexation were highly unpopular programs that the Council undertook. They refused to provide the monetary costs of these endeavors. Calling out the refusal of the management to tell how much unpopular programs cost.
The Council Packet contained the information on the City Manager's Report. Engaging defiant political power proactively, will allow the community to see it in action.
In the past I had always talked to the Council, exclusively. Now I am broadening my audience to include not only the City Manager but the community as well.
I will remember this presentation in the fall as I begin the closing arguments.
Wherever you can engage in dialogue, I would invite you to take the opportunity. It shapes the conversation and gives practice for concluding your campaign.
The wealth effect
Creating wealth in the neighborhoods across the Country will have a profound effect. It will power the economy; creating more opportunities and jobs. Putting the neighborhoods into the budget equation is the first step.
The second is engaging the community. An engaged community has a voice – a reason to be optimistic about a better tomorrow. This is going to take change to occur. This will require a leadership that is more engaged and understands that businesses do not operate in a vacuum. They require financially healthy customers to be successful. One of the easiest and least costly ways to achieve this, is to increase net worth in the neighborhoods.
City Manager's Report
The City Manager's Report was not read into the public record tonight. It will be discussed on April 22nd.
The statement, “We should not be afraid of the government, they should be afraid of us” is a power position. Making them afraid, will only make them less effective at getting things resolved.
Taking the time to engage in dialogue, when the opportunity presents itself, also provides a path for resolution. Ultimately, a choice has to be made – do I really want what I say, or do I just want to blame and continue the status quo?
Choosing not to blame opens another avenue – autonomy. In this place I am not the victim, rather I make choices to further my goals instead of reacting. I will be sharing more on this when the City Manager reads the report into the Public Record on April 22nd.
I committed to sending the City a copy of the PDF file of the Bankruptcy documents that contained the Judge's signature ordering the reorganization into action.