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Budget Consultations

Using surveys and q&a for budget consultations

Nathan Connors

Nathan Connors

Nathan is Bang the Table's Melbourne based Learning and Practice Manager. He has a background in media, communications and software training.

Surveying your community is a great way to get feedback for your next budget consultations and utilising Q&A can help clarify your communities concerns.

In this article we look at how the City of Gold Coast in Australia is using surveys to consult on their 2018 budget and how City of Oshawa in Canada used questions and answers to educate their community.

Gold Coast City Budget 2018-19

As part of their current budget consultations, City of Gold Coast have developed a multi-page survey to investigate attitudes towards spending and conduct priority testing within the community.

Using these multiple pages, Gold Coast decided to focus each page on a different set of questions.

On the first page of the survey, their questions focused on understanding community satisfaction, asking about the availability, repair and maintenance of local amenities.

This was followed by pages which focused on attitudes towards priorities for the city as a whole and also priorities for the users local area.

To execute this survey, Gold Coast use a combination of likert question types, ranking questions, radio buttons and essay text.

The survey is also setup as registered participants only ensuring that only City Panel members can provide their feedback.

We think this is a good example of how to develop a simple budget consultation survey, as it tests community satisfaction with current service delivery levels and also attempts to unpack community priorities for the year ahead.

Using surveys over multiple pages is a great way to group questions and images and also a useful way to help bring identity and focus to each of the pages.

Consulting on your next budget using a survey can allow for you to carefully craft questions to ensure you get a bigger picture of your communities concerns, priorities and sentiment to your proposals.

One interesting thing to note about this budget consultation survey, is that money isn’t actually mentioned in the survey itself.

Instead of asking community to get involved in a participatory process, where they might be tasked with commenting on specific spending for different areas of service delivery, this survey instead focusses on satisfaction and priorities as the mechanism for community involvement in the budgeting process.

This is a useful alternative to asking community to get into the nitty-gritty of money management while still helping to inform final budget outcomes and details.

Check out their simple but effective survey design below.

Connect Oshawa 2018 City Budget

The 2018 Oshawa City budget process provides us with a great example of how to use Q&A tools as part of complex budgeting activities.

As part of their budgeting process, Oshawa utilised a combination of tools to design a consultation which focused efforts on transparency, educating the community and answering community questions and concerns about the budget.

To do this effectively, they utilised EngagementHQ’s online Q&A tool as a way of facilitating questions about their budget.

This is a highly useful tool to utilise for budget consultations because it allows your community to get involved outside of the formal feedback mechanisms you have put in-place such as surveys or even forums.

Utilising the Q&A tool for a budget consultation is also a fantastic method for dispelling any community misinformation, clarifying concerns and answering questions about your budget process or proposed spending that you may not have considered.

Moreover, by being able to control to flow of information, allowing for public and private replies, the Q&A tool allowed Oshawa to control how responses were managed throughout their online consultaiton.

As well as utilising EHQ’s Q&A tool for their budget process, Oshawa took the Q&A concept one step further and also hosted a live Telephone Town Hall online webinar.

This strategy allowed members of the community to phone into a conversation about the City budget and again helped to expand the range of conversations around the planning and development of the budget.

The conversation was facilitated by the City Treasurer and City Manager which allowed community to have direct access to the people responsible for planning and developing the budget and by publishing the meeting on their EHQ consultation page, provides evidence of broad consultation on the budget and helps to instil trust through transparency.

Incorporating some of these simple ideas into your next budget consultations can help you capture and shape your budget while building relationships with your community.

14 February 2018
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