4 Ways to Bolster Your Budget – Part 2

by | Jul 25, 2017

4 Ways to Bolster Your Budget – Part 2
Gauge trends and know your options.

In the first post of this series, we talked about the hodgepodge of challenges community leaders must tackle while creating and managing municipal budgets that meet the needs and interests of the community as a whole. We also teased four proven actions municipalities can take to achieve more stable budgets, guaranteed revenues, and overall thriving communities. In today’s post, let’s explore the first two steps on the road to reaching your budget goals.

1. Observe and gauge development trends

While no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, it definitely helps to get a handle on current and emerging development trends as you make decisions about your community’s budget. These “trends” encompass relevant movements in your area and across the country and are also inclusive of your community’s specific development plans and needs.

With that being said, start by taking a look at what projects are on the horizon for your community. Maybe new commercial or residential developments are coming down the pipeline, or perhaps improvements to a local park are underway. Taking into account projects that are already on the docket will help you better allocate the dollars that remain.

Next, come to an understanding of your community’s most pressing needs to better determine funding priorities moving forward. For example, your city might be in desperate need of certain infrastructure improvements, such as bridge, roadway, or stormwater management. By identifying these areas of need, you can make goals and build more accurate, realistic spending projections to match those goals.

And lastly, better anticipate development trends by taking a look at housing markets, not only within your community, but also regionally and nationally. Again, while you won’t be able to make precise predictions on future housing and development activity, you can at least get a better feel for what is coming your way.

2. Prepare for changing workloads and staffing needs

You know that various departments in your municipality face regular fluctuations in workloads and activity. Building departments, for example, experience busy and slow seasons due to construction booms and busts. In order to effectively handle changes to workloads and staffing needs, your community must look for ways to staff your departments efficiently during those inevitable ups and downs.

By partnering with a third-party community development firm like SAFEbuilt, you can ditch the burden of staffing and fortify your workforce as needed. You can also choose to deal with busy seasons, large projects, or even mass retirements by leveraging temporary supplemental services, increasing your staff for as long as you see fit. With third-party support, municipalities can achieve a number of budget benefits, including:

• Reduced risk of over- or under-staffing
• No paying for resources and services you don’t need
• Costs that don’t exceed revenue

Parting thoughts

When municipalities implement these tried-and-true strategies, they get two big steps closer to smarter spending, better allocation of funds, and budget security. Gauging development trends and preparing for unavoidable fluctuations in workloads and staffing needs can help local governments successfully anticipate and manage costs while also staffing departments effectively.

Join us in our next post as we address the last two steps toward a sustainable budget and a better community. Then be sure to finish out our series to see how stable budgets come full circle.

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