The budget takes center stage as a report on the productivity of city staff, a presentation on the implications of budget cost-cutting and a discussion of the creation of a Financial Advisory Board highlight the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.
The council also is expected to reappoint five members to Rockville Economic Development Inc.’s board.
The council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.
The council will hear a report on the productivity of city staff over the past five years.
Staff has served an increasingly large number of residents spread across expanding city limits, a staff report said. Rockville’s population grew from 47,388 to 61,209—a 29 percent increase—between 2000 and 2010, according to the report. The number of city employees increased from 376 to 413 (a 9.8 percent increase) during the same period.
“The city government has sought to maintain its workload with less workers per capita by increasing productivity through the use of new technologies, improved operational efficiencies and more strategic management,” the report said. “As the city continues to confront increasingly challenging fiscal circumstances, it is prudent to explore how much more productivity might be gained.
The 22-page report details several ways the city has done more with less, including:
- Adjusting part-time staff schedules at the Rockville Senior Center in 2010 to allow more weekend rentals of the facility. Rental revenue increased 105 percent, from $21,270 in 2010 to $44,630 in 2011.
- Expanding staff duties, increasing fees, revamping policies and launching a new marketing plan at the Rockville Civic Center Park between 2007 and 2011, which resulted in a revenue increase of 12 percent ($91,000) over three years.
The report also identifies ways the city can further increase productivity, including a program for bridge inspection and maintenance, improved workforce management practices and better use of technology, such as considering more widespread use of solar energy systems at city facilities.
Budget cost cutting
The council’s latest look at the budget includes a presentation by city staff on just what it means to cut costs.
“In the context of local government, cutting costs means making choices and prioritizing spending amongst competing interests,” staff wrote in a report. “These choices are usually pitted against raising taxes and fees so that taxpayers and users of services will pay more to maintain the same level of programs and services.”
City budget numbers for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, underscore the urgency of such choices by the council.
“Staff estimates that general fund expenditures will exceed revenues by at least $2.6 million if the real property tax rate is not increased,” the report said. “If the rate is not increased, the city will face serious reductions in programs and service levels.”
In the report, staff recommends several questions for the council to consider, including:
- Do residents have the ability and willingness to pay for the current level of programs and services?
- What are the highest priority programs and services for city residents and how many residents view each program and service as a high priority?
- Can the program or service be provided by another governmental entity or the private sector?
- If a program or service is reduced or eliminated, what is the impact on the city's residents?
The council is expected to approve the fiscal 2014 budget in May.
Upcoming budget discussions include:
- Dec. 17: City contracting.
- Jan. 7: Costs and revenues associated with new development.
Financial Advisory Board
The council also will continue a discussion on a proposal by Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton to increase citizen input on the city’s budget and finances by creating a Financial Advisory Board.
A Finance and Budget Task Force led by Councilman Mark Pierzchala delivered a report to the council in September, 2010 that included 57 recommendations for better formulating the city’s budget. Since then, council members have considered establishing a permanent version of the task force.