Performance-Based Budgeting: Atlanta, GA, Community Development

Problem Identification: Community Development

According to Rubin (2016), performance budget lists what each administrative unit is trying to accomplish, and with what resources. It further emphasizes getting the most service for the dollar. In the Performance Highlights on page 39, the City of Atlanta has noted a consistent growth of its population. Atlanta’s economy remains strong; in the budget of FY 20, it was pointed out that 8,756 new jobs were created that resulted in a 6% increase of permit quantity and over 27% increase in revenue between 2017 to 2018. The growth of jobs resulted in the growth of residents. When people received a job offer that will require them to move, they will be in the market for a new home. The first thing they want to see in a home is good proximity to essential businesses, school district, and a sense of community with clean streets, and that reflects well on the community leaders and fellow residents. While Atlanta noted in their performance highlight that they have seen over 1,408 new housing units created, and over 66% of those units are affordable housing, the amount of new job growth still overshadows the housing growth by around six times.

According to the summary of fund balance, Affordable Housing Funds have not seen an increase between FY 19 and 20. With a growing economy and population, Atlanta should focus on Community development; that is not only including the growth of its housing units, but also their living standards and presence. Plans to improve the general safety and appearance of the community are important to current and potential residents; as a result, they should be documented and evaluated. Community growth must meet its job growth. The city should care about building a healthy, cohesive, vibrant communities, which is a concept to promote a positive state of well-being among people within social and physical environments.

Proposed Goals for the Problem

A performance-based budget shows what government agencies are doing and provide a series of well-chosen benchmarks to tell how well they are doing it to demonstrate effectiveness (Rubin, 2016). My first proposal is that the city should decrease the number of abandoned structures over the years. In the city’s remediation strategy, Atlanta has the plan to construct a new park that will require demolition of abandoned structures (2018). The Enterprise Assets Management division will oversee the disposition of abandoned property (Atlanta, 2018). The city should consider that plan to be expanded the motion to demo abandoned structures to the whole jurisdiction and not solely where the new park would be.

Secondly, the city should collaborate with agencies, such as the housing authority, to develop legislation that identifies neighborhoods with high levels of abandoned structures, whether commercial, residential, or industrial. In order to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, Moving to Work (MTW) Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Urban Planning and Development, gave Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) the flexibility to design and test various approaches to providing quality, affordable housing opportunities and promote self-sufficiency (AHA, 2018). The city should also promote a Neighborhood Watch in every community, which encourages neighbors to help neighbors. It further empowers them to take pride in the betterment of their community as they serve extra eyes and ears for safety or hazardous conditions. With these partnerships, the city should obtain the support it needs to identify areas that need redevelopment for the enrichment of the community.

Last, the city should issue citations against various violators for dilapidated houses, overgrown lots, and abandoned structures, and send court summons for severe or unresponsive violators. The Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Bureau should resolve nuisance abatement problems and work closely on related issues with citizens and city council members. They should also conduct housing inspections and work closely with the housing demolition program. The fines received for noncompliance should help alleviate the cost of drafting the legislation and execution.

Indicators for Performance

Performance-based analysis requires input measures that track the number of resources, money, time, labor, etc., allocated to a department to achieve the goal (Bland, 2013). The city should provide a timeline of a year to try and get violators and abandoned housing under control. To track the input measure, the city needs to calculate how much labor hours and resources that were reported by partnering agencies, such as the Code Enforcement Bureau and the AHA. As code enforcement will issue citations and summons, the city should also keep track of labor hours and resources spent at the courthouses. Any changes in quantities, magnitude, or value of FY 2018 benchmarks are due to normal year-to-year fluctuations in residents, households, or units that form the basis of inputs into the calculations.

On the other hand, the output measure quantifies the amount of work accomplished (Bland, 2013). In the MTW Annual Report, key measurements of success include the number of new affordable units, new homeownership, and dollar invested and leveraged in real estate development (AHA, 2018). A good efficiency indicator would be to see how many demolition permits were issued compared to all the abandoned structures that were listed by AHA. To evaluate the output from the Code Enforcement Bureau, we could measure how many violators became compliant to address to the issues out of the total amount of citations issued.

For the efficiency indicators, I propose the city to minimize expenses for private companies that are needed to revitalize communities, such as demolition companies, builders, landscapers, and other general contractors. It would be wise for a city to standardize costs for the demolition or construction company. This can be done by creating a scope of work with all the anticipated demolition jobs under one wholesale price for private companies to submit their bids. Another way to improve efficiency is to incentivize tax benefit on private companies who involve in projects related to affordable housing.

With all the indicators in place, the city of Atlanta should establish trackable goals and measure their performance in a certain timeframe. As it could be a time-consuming process, from identifying an unkempt property, to working with its owner to address the issue, to planning redevelopment with the AHA, the city should give itself a goal for each phase. An example that I propose for the city is to increase the demolition counts for abandoned structure by 20% for every year for five years, with an aim to redevelop over 75% of underutilized space in five years. The city should further refine the percentage and the time frame after reviewing its historical data and deciding how much budget it can allocate to support the process financially. An unorganized way to approach issuing citations, redevelopment of space, and court hearings can prolong the service time. Document the time laps and identify the area of the slowdown and work ways to improve efficiency.

Lastly, to increase the public’s trust in the city’s service quality, the city of Atlanta could consider issuing a satisfaction survey of the community members, where abandoned places have been repurposed, and violators have become compliant. A survey should be available to the affecting residents over a span of five years to get their opinion on what they think about the changes in different communities and how it has affected them. An example would is to look at the frequency of a report from a Neighborhood Watch; with issues being addressed promptly, the city should see fewer reports on repeat issues.

Outcome Anticipated

Lastly, Bland (2013) stated that outcome measures demonstrate the impact of a proposed spending change on organizational or community conditions that will help those responsible for the budget to make better decisions and increase accountability, such as the efficiency and effectiveness of the government. While Atlanta is focused on providing more housing to its ever-growing population, policymakers should also consider the quality community instead of the quantity for its residents. Community-specific improvement has positive externalities for affordable housing levels and socioeconomic levels (AHA, 2018). As the community enriches, the city should see less in crime rate and a decrease in the number of 911 emergency calls. The city should also see a growth of population and economy as abandoned structures are removed for commercial and residential redevelopment.

With the help of the Code Enforcement Bureau, AHA, and Neighborhood Watch, the city will be able to provide a broad range of public services while protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens. The partnership effort will further increase the city’s ability to work as a team while setting a leadership example for the community. To summarize my performance-based budget, I compiled a logic model (reference Table 1.) which addresses the balance of the input, output, and outcome discussed in this paper.

 

 

Table 1.

Logic Model

Goal: -Enrich the existing community and thus increase the standards of living

-Redevelopment of underutilized urban spaces due to depilated structures

Objectives  Inputs Outputs Outcomes
-Identify abandoned or depilated structures in the city.

-Identify any building that may not be up to date on the current building codes.

-Hold private owners accountable for maintaining their property or ordinance in place.

-Establish and execute redevelopment plans geared towards the enrichment of the community.

-Participation from the Neighborhood Watch to report any unsafe or hazardous conditions.

-Collaborations with Code Enforcement Bureau to issue citations.

-Collaborations with the court and the justice system to fine and enforce violators to comply with code.

-Cooperation from private owners to keep their depilated structures up to code or remove it.

-Collaborations with the Enterprise Assets Management division to dispose of property if private owners forfeit their ownership.

– Partnership with the AHA to redevelop space after the abandoned structures are removed.

-Fulfillment from private companies that accept AHA’s work order to revitalize the community.

-Increase reports of noncompliance from uniformed Neighborhood Watch in different regions of the city.

-Issue warnings and citations to violators.

-Increase permit for demolitions or constructions.

-Removal of abandoned structures.

-Increase the number of fines collected from code violators.

-Increase the redevelopment of underutilized spaces for residential or commercial growth.

-Increase new homeownership.

-Increase in return on investment from housing growth.

-Increase in safety and satisfaction rating in surveys to communities.

Short-term: Fines collected from citations can be used to fund the urban redevelopment or affordable housing program.

Medium-term: With abandon structures removed, the overall safety of the dwellings in the community will increase, and more space can be repurposed, which can benefit both residential and commercial development. In short, it will increase the real estate market value.
Long-term: Promotion of partnership between different agencies, will help the continual growth of community livelihoods and set precedents of future residents and discourage them from not taking care of their properties.

 

Note. From “Performance-Based Budgeting: Atlanta, GA, Community Development” by Chen, S., 2020, Augusta University.

Reference

Atlanta Housing Authority (2018). Moving to Work Annual Plan. Retrieved from https://www.atlantahousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/fy18mtw-annual-planrevised.pdf

Bland, R. L. (2013). A budgeting guide for local government (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: ICMA Press.

City of Atlanta, Georgia. (2019). Fiscal year 2020, adopted budget. Retrieved from https://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/standing-committees/finance-executive-committee/fy-2020-proposed-budget

Rubin, I. S. (2016). The Politics of Public Budgeting: Getting and Spending, Borrowing, and Balancing (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s