Balancing Act, an online engagement tool created by the Denver-based public policy firm Engaged Public, offers a first-of-its-kind budget simulator designed to educate and solicit feedback from residents on a community’s budget priorities. Optimized for user experience based on years of familiarity with online engagement, Balancing Act provides a cloud-based means for local governments to display their budgets in a visual, interactive way while also encouraging residents to take the next step, put themselves in their public officials’ shoes, and balance their own custom budget. These results can then be incorporated into existing budget processes.
Balancing Act is more than just a fun tool that brings budgets to life. It has been used by the State of Colorado, the cities of Hartford and San Antonio, and other public entities to educate residents on the often-difficult compromises required to balance budgets, especially in light of revenue-raising restrictions and fiscal deficits. It has also been used to broaden the amount and quality of traditional feedback processes over and above the small number of people who attend typical budget meetings. With Balancing Act, you can easily input your budget and create your own narrative that not only explains budget items to community members with responsive graphics and varying levels of detail, but also gives citizens a meaningful seat at the table.
Balancing Act additionally offers a Taxpayer Receipt-type accountability tool that asks residents a few questions to estimate their tax burden, then provides them an itemized “receipt” of where exactly their tax dollars go.
“We built Balancing Act to support those local governments who are at the cutting edge of innovation and wish to build even better relationships with residents,” said Chris Adams, President of Engaged Public.
“By providing an online, interactive forum to both educate and engage residents on the budget, Balancing Act helps to build trust, create buy-in and identify priorities. Within a few years, residents will expect this type of a tool and we are eager to support early adopter cities.”
Alliance for Innovation President, Karen Thoreson, welcomes Balancing Act as an Alliance Corporate Partner. “The fun, easy-to-use web-based simulator encourages civic engagement in one of the difficult and most prevalent challenges in civic governance – balancing the budget. The community benefits with increased citizen participation and understanding of their municipality’s budget challenges. Transparency is enhanced. The Alliance agrees this innovative simulator represents what will become a standardized component of local government’s budgeting process.”
Balancing Act has partnered with the Alliance for Innovation, an international network of government organizations, to harness the power of innovation, collaboration, and technology to transform local government and advance communities.
Balancing Act and the Alliance are committed to this partnership to drive innovative and collaborative solutions that are designed for local governments. Balancing Act will contribute research and best practices in the field of online citizen engagement, including fiscal transparency, increasing two-way interactivity, and merging online tools with in-person meetings through in-person workshops, online webinars, and shared success stories.
In addition, Balancing Act has just launched its Pro and Custom versions, making it even easier for all types of public entities to upload their fiscal data and create a budget simulation, from municipalities and counties to library districts, special districts, and even individual departments.
To learn more about Balancing Act, contact Kevin Amirehsani at 303.282.9250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.