Decatur Budget: Goals For the Coming Fiscal Year – Part 1

budget decatur coverOne of the best ways to learn about the City of Decatur’s plans for the coming year is in their “Budget Narrative“, which is a key component of the city’s larger submitted budget.

Within that narrative are a list of the city’s accomplishments from the previous year, along with plans for the coming year.  They are divided up by the four main goals in the 2010 Strategic Plan: Principle A: Manage Growth While Retaining Character, Principle B: Encourage a Diverse and Engaged Community, Principle C: Serve as Good Stewards of the Environment and Community, Resources and Principle D: Support a Safe, Healthy, Lifelong Community.

We’ll feature the city’s stated goals for the coming year in four installments over the next few days.  Up first…

Principle A: Manage Growth While Retaining Character

  • Install street furniture including 2 new benches and 10 additional bicycle racks as well as 2 picnic tables (task 1F)
  • Fill vacancies in the Police Department so that additional officers can be re-assigned to patrol the commercial districts and to the traffic units to ensure the safety of residents and visitors (Goal 1)
  • Train PALS in crossing guard skills for festival and events, graffiti removal and expanded ambassador duties (Goal 1)
  • Implement retail and restaurant recruitment strategies to attract types of businesses identified as needed. Train CED staff to negotiate successful partnerships with desired businesses (Task 1D)
  • Refine and expand “Keep it Indie-Catur” program (2B)
  • Direct development for the Trinity Triangle, Callaway Building site, and the Avondale Marta site (Goal 1and 3, Tasks 3B, 3C)
  • Purchase Kubota utility vehicle to improve trash pick up capabilities (Goal1)
  • Hire consultants to develop and write a Unified Development Code which will include updating thehistoric preservation ordinance (Goal 3 and 4)
  • Hire an intern shared by the Revenue Division and Community & Economic Development to complete projects that relate to supporting local businesses (Goal 2)
The city will hold its second public hearing on the budget this year on Monday June 17th and will open up a “Open City Hall online forum” this week.

11 thoughts on “Decatur Budget: Goals For the Coming Fiscal Year – Part 1”


  1. Very Interesting! Fascinating! A literal tour de force in the modern budgetary process! Kept me on the edge of my IPad until the very end! How many explanation points can I use in one DM comment?!
    Ok. Enough with the cold hearted, right wing cynicism. Here’s my point:
    “Budget
    An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
    Allow or provide for in a budget: “the university is budgeting for a deficit”; “a budgeted figure of $31,000”.
    Inexpensive: “a budget guitar” (only a newbie in Decatur would consider this a definition of our budget process).
    Like Stragetic Planning, the purpose of these meetings and narratives, is to confuse, fluster, and delay the terrible news that our government wants to grow larger, more powerful, and increase our taxes while we enjoy the bread and circuses of modern times- festivals, more alcohol, and the belief that living in the City of Decatur will never, ever have a downside. If you have lived here long enough, you know it has happened before and most likely, will do so again.
    So what would I like to see at these meetings? What would be fun is to have some folkes from the Ponce Place neighborhood, people who have recently experienced the heavy hand of the Stragetic Planning process, show up and raise Hell about the fact that their neighborhood will change dramatically because of something that many of them originally supported (the Stragetic Plan).
    But wait, what am I thinking (my wife, who usually moderates these comments, is busy working of do-gooder church stuff)?!. Raising Hell at a Decatur government meeting is like those people in Fayette and Forsith Counties, and we don’t want to act like those folkes, do we?
    One final note. A shout out to my STGfriend with whom I have much in common (hard to believe yet true). But alas (a word I would like to see more often at DM), this post is not one of our commonalities.

    1. Apparently “meetings and narratives” are the opiate of the people. Ok. I wonder what Mr. B would think if our government did its thing without “meetings and narratives?” Would that appease him?

      1. I read his post to say that festivals and booze were the opiates, sort of like the games of ancient Rome.

        1. I read: “the purpose of these meetings and narratives, is to confuse, fluster, and delay . . .”

          I still have not seen one shred of evidence from Mr. B, despite the continued accusations, that the award-winning processes that our city government uses is in any way part of some sort of nefarious plot to subvert the will of the people. This is just a ridiculous assertion.

          1. Don’t expect to see anything from him. He just likes to roll those smoke bombs out into the street.

  2. I think the lack of comment/debate means that people are, in general, pretty happy with their city government and people like Mr. B are in the minority.

  3. This is as good a spot as any–I can’t wait until Friday– say that I thought calling last week’s Budget Expo “Touch-A-Budget” is one of the cleverest things I’ve ever seen the City do and they are a darn clever, creative bunch. It’s had me giggling uncontrollably for days. Since even “Touch-A-Truck”, a favorite family event in the past, gets me giggling, this just hit my funny bone hard. This and the new bikeracks–another threadjack: there’s one at Dancing Goats now! I don’t know if anyone has ever measured the impact of civic humor on community spirit and good will but I applaud the City for their use of it. No matter what community and school system disputes arise, we’ll be okay if we can laugh, care, and enjoy ourselves.

  4. I really appreciate how the City uses the stretegic plan and communicates the links to its past and future actions with the community-developed plan. So much better than seeing a list of funding needs in a vacuum. It might be interesting to have the above list categorized by priority, if it isn’t already. That way if folks did want to look at limiting/cutting the budget, there would be some clarity as to what gets cut from this year’s list.

  5. As someone who routinely works with cities of all sizes nationwide, I can attest that connecting the priorities and initiatives of a municipal budget to a broad-based and accountable community consensus-building process (as opposed to a handful of red-shirted maniacs at a commission meeting) is exceedingly rare. Communicating it in a way that’s accessible to those who don’t scrutinize balance sheets for pleasure even more so.

    Some people are invested (either financially or emotionally) in the old-skool process of politicians setting an agenda of their own priorities and engagement taking place solely in commission meetings and, for them, I can understand how anything that empowers the quiet majority would be seen as a threat. Priorities in Decatur are set according to those who wish to help define them. It’s “what you say” vs. “who you know” (most of the time). Personally, I’m grateful. I don’t expect perfection. What I expect is the opportunity to contribute (or to validate through my silence) in ways that help shape our collective future, and Decatur delivers that in ways very few other places do.

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