One city councilmember has repeatedly brought the software forward for consideration, but the other members and city employees have been skeptical. Now he intends to move forward with a trial run anyway.
(TNS) — City Councilman Russel Neal Jr. said Monday that he plans to let taxpayers simulate budgeting decisions for the Parks and Recreation Department using new budget-balancing software.
As chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, Neal said he will apply the software to the parks and rec budget with the hope of persuading the city to eventually apply the software to the entire 2019 budget.
“We work for the citizens and they have a right to have as much insight to how we do business as we can provide for them,” Neal said. “A lot of folks on council have an apprehension of engaging technology.”
City Council repeatedly rejected Neal’s proposal last year to take advantage of a free trial offered by Colorado-based Balancing Act, a public policy consulting firm that developed the software.
To input the city’s data, Neal said he will work with Balancing Act as well as residents who have expressed interest in the tool.
Neal said he also will work with the city’s Finance Department, which rejected using the software last year. Director of Finance Diane Miller-Dawson has said the her department doesn’t have the manpower to input the data and doesn’t want to provide others with access to its finance software.
Mayor Dan Horrigan said the software isn’t necessary to gather input from residents. He pointed to a recent city survey that gathered more than 3,000 respondents. The survey was aimed at learning what’s needed in the city’s parks.
“When you want more information, you go the source and those are the people who use the system,” he said. “The software [Neal] intends to try that has not passed City Council four times is not designed to do that.”
The city will bring the results of the parks survey to City Council in the coming weeks to begin implementing improvements.
Horrigan also said citizens input in the budget process comes through their elected City Council representatives.
City Council Vice President Jeff Fusco said the city’s Great Streets and Parks Challenge programs, designed to improve neighborhoods, rely on resident input gathered at public meetings.
“There are plenty of examples of getting input from the community when it comes to spending, administrating and delivering services,“ he said. “I think it’s very clear the administration and City Council have no desire to approve this piece of software.”
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