The National League of Cities latest "State of Cities" report has shed light on a topic that is of such great importance – the policy priority of achieving "safe communities" in our cities.
As we previously detailed on this blog (NLC and PBB Priorities are in Synch), "Public Safety" is one of the most commonly cited priorities in our work, as well as the findings of NLC's research on "State of the City" addresses across the Country. What is most interesting in NLC's latest report is something that we have found in community after community through the implementation of Priority Based Budgeting – the programs that truly help us achieve a "Safe Community" are not only the programs that immediately come to mind…
How We Achieve Safe Community
The Result Map (above) comes from the City of Cincinnati. Precision in Priority Based Budgeting depends on the clear articulation of the cause and effect relationship between a program and a defined Result. With clearly defined “Result Maps,” detailing the factors that influence the Results the organization is in business to achieve, it can seek to minimize subjectivity in the process of linking those Results to programs or services offered to the community.
In Cincinnati's Result Map, you'll see that there are the obvious elements of public safety included in the map (law enforcement, emergency response, crime prevention). Yet, because we strive for a comprehensively defined result in the Result Map, we also see the often over-looked strategies to achieving a Safe Community that are also vitally important in the City (safe environment, feeling of safety for youth and families, safe water and air, ability to travel safely, etc).
A Means to An End: Public Safety as an Economic Health Strategy
Finally, NLC's report also hit on the interplay between Results, and how achieving one Result may be a means to achieving another Result. CPBB is emphatic about the concept of "leverage" in Priority Based Budgeting - a leveraged program being one that has an influence on achieving multiple Results. As we work with communities to align resources with their priorities, our quest is to pinpoint and highlight those programs that produce the greatest investment - one tax dollar spent on a program that achieves multiple Results is a leveraged tax dollar (its as if the money has been spent twice, or three times to achieve two or even three Results!).
It's a tremendously exciting concept, and therefore the CPBB is extremely enthusiastic to see NLC's report highlight the phenomena that sometimes the achievement of one Results is a means to an end to achieve another Result. Take for instance, the City of Billings, Montana, and their policy priority of achieving "Sustainable Economic Development." While this is an economic result, there are elements of public safety all over this Result Map! To the extent that citizens believe that their community is safe, that it is safe to shop and work downtown, it absolutely has an economic impact - Priority Based Budgeting proves this point again and again.