Edinburg will be looking to introduce a “new, and streamlined” approach to the budget process as city departments begin to outline their needs for the next fiscal year, city officials said over the weekend.
At stake are at least seven priorities for the city highlighted by City Manager Ramiro Garza at a special workshop on March 27. Garza told a gathering of the City Council and department heads that an “uncertain economic environment” requires the city to review and update its operational approach, as well as apply new cost saving measures, and infrastructure planning as the budget process gets underway in April.
City departments must outline their key focused areas for the budget in order to drive sustainable results, Garza said.
“Every department has their budget, we are just looking for ways to streamline it,” Garza told the Edinburg Review following the meeting. “At the same time we want to address new initiatives that can help us meet residents’ needs…we want to have a plan with key focused areas so that we can address the needs throughout the city as a part of our budget process.”
Priorities for the city include the expansion of technology within the community and city departments; completion of the city’s downtown master plan; improvement of the overall living conditions for low and moderate income residents; restructure a new system for the city’s advisory boards; acquire project management software to manage ongoing projects; create a city academy for leadership training; and acquiring additional green space for future development.
“It’s about how we deliver services to the city,” Garza said. “We don’t have the economic growth we have had previously. We do still have growth, but it’s not the same as before.”
Earlier this year, financial consultants contracted by the city of Edinburg forecast that the growth rate in the city, which peaked at 12 percent in the last decade, could dip to 3 percent this year.
“I don’t know of any other areas that even experienced a positive growth,” Garza said earlier. “The fact that we’re doing 3 percent is very conservative so that as we plan all these major projects, we can keep that in mind as opposed to an eight, 10 or 12 percent like we have experienced in the past.”
Councilmember Gus Garcia, who was among the more vocal proponents at the meeting in favor of additional revenue-generating projects in the city, said leaders need to be “super aggressive” to bring new venues to town.
Garcia said he favored a three-pronged approach to generating money in Edinburg. “One is to get the money through the door, two is bringing quality of life for our citizens, and three is to get those services paid for,” Garcia said.
“This session we had was more to talk about providing quality of life for our citizens, but using those quality of life venues to generate income. I think we have always had them, but we have never taken a real aggressive approach at how we can garner to the city in order to provide services to the community.”
City departments will begin outlining their budgets in April. The city will then hold budget work sessions in May, followed by staff department meetings throughout the summer. The budget will be finalized in September before the new Fiscal Year begins on Oct. 1.