After already making major reductions in expenditures, there were no simple or easy solutions remaining to balance the ongoing deficit. Each of the choices facing the City Council requires balancing different and, sometimes competing, interests.
The Options Tool was intended to allow anyone to model various financial scenarios. The Options Tool gave users the ability to select the options that he/she prefers for the City to pursue, and automatically sees how those choices affect the long-term General Fund deficit. It is intended to simulate the tradeoffs, tensions, and implications of choosing the various options. This was atleast a 4-dimensional puzzle, but was portrayed in a 2-dimensional format. Some of the considerations included:
- Dollars – How much does each option save (or cost) the General Fund?
- Time – How long does an option take to begin saving or costing money, and how do the savings change over time as you move through the five years?
- Service Levels and Community Values – How does the choice affect service levels, community character, employee morale, etc?
- Risks / Probability of Implementation – How easily can an option be implemented and what are the risks in doing so?
Options Tool Description
The first line of the Options Tool shows the current forecasted deficit. Below that, there is a description of each option, as well as a display of the dollar savings (or cost) for each of the 5 years of the forecast model. To the left of each choice, the user can select which options he / she wishes, and the Options Tool will automatically re-solve and re-display the deficit with the selected options. Hovering over the title of any option or section will display a message box to the right that will provide the user with additional description and background about that particular option.
For more information, you can can read the Fiscal Sustainability Plan, view the fiscal sustainability web page, watch the prior work sessions, educate yourself about the City’s fiscal sustainability efforts.