A budget for the people


February 13, 2008

Josh Cornfield, Metro


CITY HALL. For regular taxpaying citizens, trying to wrap the mind around hundreds of pages of the city budget is a tough task.


“To me, they could spend less money on nonsense all across the board,” said Crystal Wilson, 33. “I’d like to see more concrete spending on things people need. I don’t want people spending money on useless things.”


In Mayor Michael Nutter’s first budget and five-year plan proposals, to be presented to City Council tomorrow, the money breakdown is based on priorities of the administration and assessing how much it will cost to accomplish its different goals.


“I think instead of dividing everything up by departments ... using outcome-based budgeting, I think that makes it more accessible to people,” said Nutter’s finance director, Rob Dubow.


The budget will break down by strategy areas, laying out how spending will achieve different goals, including lowering crime, Dubow said this week.


According to Steven T. Wray, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, having a budget written in plain English and with citizen input helps to engage taxpayers to actually care about how their tax dollars are being spent.


Outcome-based budgeting and plans for public forums also help, he said.