Moreland City Council, Australia, needs to balance its budget every year. Traditionally, they have put their budget out to formal consultation each year, and 2019 was no exception. However, this time, they also wanted to try something a bit different.
They chose Simulator
They brought in Simulator, a powerful, deliberative prioritisation tool that works on two levels: it gathers public feedback on complex issues such as government budgets; and it educates at the point of response.
This means that citizens can learn about the complexities and trade-offs that their councils have to make, all while providing meaningful, informed feedback.
Unlike many councils around the world, Moreland was not experiencing a budget deficit. However, the Victoria State Government enforces a rate increase cap of 2.5% per year. They needed to operate within this cap, while still continuing to provide improvements and investment into the city. They used a Budget Simulator to ask their citizens which services they’d like to improve, and help them to understand the trade-offs that would be involved with doing so within the constraints of a rate cap – such as reducing spending on one service if they wanted to increase spending in another.
The Council were impressed with the quality of the responses received, and they were pleased to find that the responses to the Simulator aligned closely with the plans they had drafted. Feedback demonstrated that citizens wished to prioritise funding in open space and parks, waste and environmental sustainability. Seeing these results meant that Moreland knew they were already on the right track before they had published the draft budget for consultation. Simulator acted as a pre-consultation engagement tool which gave them confidence that their priorities aligned with those of their residents.
Simulator is an ideal tool to incorporate into the decision-making process. It fosters better understanding of the often difficult decisions public bodies need to make, and for Moreland, it added an engaging new element to their annual budgeting consultation methods. The tool provided a new way for citizens to get involved and was well-received by residents.
Want to find out more about what Simulator can do for your organisation? Book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.