Mayor Marchione (in photo) held a Public Hearing last night to wrap up the BP process. No one showed to speak pro or con. Did anyone know about it? As usual, city advertising of BP public participation events was faint. Only 6 citizens signed-up for the first meeting and 12 for the second. The key purpose of BP is to engage citizens in the budget process. This pitiful Hearing combined with the others make for a Triple Storm - a public process disaster.
The Mayor was prepared for the worst. Melissa Files, his finance manager, spoke immediately after the Hearing to PR the BP. I listened in on the tapes of the meeting and bent over, laughing in pain, when Melissa stated, "The BP process gets a whole bunch of citizens and employees involved in the budget".
Truth came out on how the Administration measures our capacity for taxation and budgetary needs. Administration obviously can't rely on pubic input. Rather, they use a book (Osborne and Hutchinson.) as their gold standard for deciding on how much taxation we can take. Melissa summarized the book:
"there's a band within which citizens are willing to pay taxes based on total city revenues as compared to personal income. The band for Redmond is 5-6% of personal income."Oh, so THAT'S how Mayor John Marchione knew he could raise our property tax 1% last election? He applied the formula!
Melissa promoted transparency and accountability in the BP process and claimed the six key priorities of BP were "developed in 2008 by the citizens of Redmond". Huh? What did she say? First, I went to all 2008 BP public meetings; the 6 priorities where predetermined and stated without any public input. Second, the Mayor claims he has "identified" $2.6M in efficiencies this biennium, but he's still opaque on their implementation.
This BP process looks like a lost cause but you can still "participate" at BPquestions@redmond.gov, or please comment here. Two state-mandated public Hearings on the budget will be held this Fall.
Opinion By Bob Yoder
6/15 Council meeting tape
2009-2010 Mid-Biennial Review Performance Management
Public Record: BP Innovation/Efficiency Initiative, 4/2010
Participation at 2008 / 2010 BP Meetings.