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City of Milpitas, CA Finds $4 Million Amidst Fiscal Uncertainty

Milpitas, CA 95035, USA

At a Glance

Deputy City Manager Walter Rossmann recognized that without changing the way the City of Milpitas planned and budgeted, it could not find the savings it needed to manage fiscal uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. Rossmann quickly implemented a strategic budget process, saving the city $4 million over two years.

Problem Addressed

In 2020, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic closures hit the City of Milpitas, CA hard, as it did with many municipalities. The city was expected to face a $4-6 million dollar loss in revenue for FY2020, and a loss of $12-14 million for FY2021.

Deputy City Manager Walter Rossmann recognized that without changing the way the City of Milpitas planned and budgeted, it could not find the savings it needed to manage fiscal uncertainty.

The existing budget process was inefficient, costing teams hundreds of hours in manual work and leaving no time for needed personnel planning and scenario analysis. Additionally, the budget team did not have the tools they needed to enable planning and analysis and support smart trade-offs.

The City of Milpitas used/is using OpenGov Budgeting & Planning and Reporting & Transparency platform to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

With budget season coming, the city quickly revamped its budget process with OpenGov's Budgeting & Planning Suite to provide teams with powerful workforce and scenario planning capabilities.

Instead of building from scratch, the budget team uploaded the previous year’s budget for each department to establish Council-approved service level costs and provide teams with a base budget in OpenGov.

Then, with access to personnel and scenario planning capabilities on OpenGov, the budget team easily ran multiple scenarios with available data to prepare for the potential impact in revenue shortfalls due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enabling teams to be agile helped them prepare for uncertainty with confidence.

After the base budget was established, departments submitted service level changes for finance review and City Manager review.

This newfound clarity provided Milpitas with the confidence it needed to reduce expenditures as part of the base budget process, resulting in savings of more than $4 million over two budget cycles (1% of the annual base budget).

Strategic budgeting saved jobs too. The new approach provided a way for the City of Milpitas to bridge revenue shortfalls and avoid critical service and position cuts. The city also saved over 100 hours in staff time, which allowed them time to develop a more accurate and refined forecast of expenditures and revenues.

With enhanced content that provided detailed descriptions of proposed service level changes, including information of the impact to performance and a no-funding decision, questions from the Council and the public were proactively addressed. The City also published its transparency portal to share key budget details with the public in an interactive online site.

Outcomes

  1. Despite the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, Milpitas was able to reduce expenditures by $4 million over two budget cycles, saving much-needed city funds
  2. The city saved 100 staff hours during the budget process
  3. The city shared key budget details with the community through a new transparency portal
  4. The city amplified its focus on citizen engagement, gathering virtual survey feedback (in four languages) from the public on strategic priorities.

Lessons Learned

  1. Milpitas’ experiment in innovative budget leadership to meet urgent needs has paid off for the City both in terms of budgeting performance and community engagement.

Who Should Consider?

Cities and counties looking to bring agility into their planning with the addition of powerful workforce planning and scenario analysis capabilities.

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