Charlottesville City Manager Chip Boyles announced that the city will be extending its strategic plan timeline in order to update the plan and streamline the budget process for fiscal year 2023.
At a City Council work session Tuesday, Boyles said this will allow the council and the public to provide input about their priorities before each department prepares its own budget, which will be due to his office in November.
“We will be looking to get your direction and that comes from input, to include the community, prior to that point for key directions,” Boyles said.
Boyles will hold a strategic plan workshop between city staff, councilors and the community on Sept. 11 to discuss potential revisions to the fiscal years 2018-23 strategic plan. City staff will work on revisions and present a draft for review at a council meeting Sept. 20. The council is expected to vote on the revisions Oct. 4.
The public will have the opportunity to provide input through an online survey and during the workshop and at City Council meetings.
The city will develop the FY 2024-26 strategic plan starting in May 2022 and the council will vote on it in August 2022.
A key change to the FY 2023 budget process is the requirement for each city department to prepare and present its own budget request prior to the development of the city manager’s budget, which is typically presented in March and voted on by the council in April.
“Some of the things that make this a little bit different than what’s been going on in the past is it does give a very timely direction to the departments for how they prepare their budgets, it creates an avenue for conversations about exactly what is strategic planning and how do we measure it, how is the departmental performance measured from the success or non-success. [It is] also creating conversations, not just about what needs to get done, but how things get done,” Boyles said.
Boyles said he hopes this plan will lead to greater accountability.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she likes that now department leaders will give presentations about their budgets.
“I think that’s something that’s been missing, and it will give us more information to be able to either advocate on their behalf or at least tell them why we chose to allocate funding to … something else,” she said.
Last budget season, the police department budget was the subject of scrutiny from both councilors and members of the public who wanted to see greater transparency from the department. Councilor Lloyd Snook called the police budget an “$18 million black box.”
“Seeing a budget that is a combination of line-item numbers is of very little value,” Snook previously said. “To know how much money is going to salaries doesn’t tell us anything about what those salaried people are doing.”
Snook said he wants the city to hold a forum where the department’s budget is presented. Under the new strategic plan and budget timeline, this is more likely to happen as each department will have to give a presentation on its budget.
Along with the department budgets, the city will finalize the Capital Improvement Plan for the FY 2023 budget in the fall. Krisy Hammill, a senior budget management analyst with the city, said the plan is to present the CIP to the Planning Commission in November or December, as opposed to grouping it in with the city manager’s budget in the spring.
Hammill said no new projects will be requested for the CIP in order to prioritize existing projects such as school reconfiguration.
The city is facing another major change as it approaches budget season. Ryan Davidson, the city’s senior budget management analyst, announced his departure during Tuesday’s meeting. He has accepted a position with the Albemarle County government.
Davidson worked for the city’s Department of Economic Development for 16 years.