The budget is a book. Don't you believe it!
One of the most common traps of local government budget preparation is addressing the task of budgeting as a task of publishing. Collecting and compiling information, validating assumptions, winnowing that to a viable proposal, editing and publishing the document...and oh yea, don't forget balancing the budget can feel like a feat of publishing accomplishment. And it is.
Indeed, the important and rigorous Government Finance Officers Association standards fully conceive of the budget as a document and the standards of excellence reinforce the publishing paradigm. But budgeting isn't just the world's greatest term paper for local government finance nerds (a group with which the author proudly identifies). Budgeting is an exercise in values. How can organizations facilitate decision-making in a manner consistent with the duty needed when making value judgments?
One way is to focus on the principles of emergence. Committing to civic engagement, sustainable development, efficient & effective services, and positive human interactions create an expansive space for local decision-making. Making value judgments isn't easy, but committing to emergence can help communities do the job to the best of their abilities.
Susan Hockenberry's blog of suggestions for info and updates.