Should the Citizens Budget Review Committee (CBRC) be Disbanded?
At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, following a CBRC presentation this is exactly what Supervisor Yakabouski asked...should we consider disbanding the CBRC?
Click here to watch the statement and the follow-on discussion. See Minute Marker 37:10.
CBRC Mission Statement: To review the County Administrator’s Recommended Budgets and the School Superintendent’s Recommended Budgets to ensure citizen priorities are met in the most cost effective manner. The Committee will make recommendations on spending County funds wisely and efficiently, and report the Committee’s findings to the Board of Supervisors.
Click here for more information on the CBRC.
Click here to review CBRC meetings.
Supervisor Yakabouski's reasoning was due to the amount of time and money being expended to have the CBRC function without having any cost saving or efficiency recommendations brought forward. Supervisors Benton, McLaughlin, and Ross all voiced their support for the CBRC stating that the committee provides transparency to the county budget process.
The argument that the CBRC is the only thing standing between Spotsy government and transparency is not a very good one. The County already maintains a Transparency page.
Spotsylvania County's Finance Department recently won a national award for their budget presentations, which included if I recall a transparency and ease of reading component. The County has an Open-checkbook program on their webpage along with several other aspects to, if citizens wanted to, review county processes and hold their leaders accountable. Over the last 6 months, I have seen a noticeable push by the County's community engagement to push out information of meetings, community notices, etc. Lastly, I on numerous occasions have directly contacted County Staff as a private citizen to request information about things that were discussed at a Board or Planning Commission meeting. Almost without exception, I received the information or an answer to my question within 48 hours. This is great customer service in a County of ~138,000 people. To summarize, Spotsylvania's transparency lie not in the CBRC, but in the processes in place that the county is already dedicating time, resources, and money to maintain.
If the CBRC could return to its previous form, it might be worth the cost. However, recently the CBRC has become practically a community venue pitting pro-school elements vs. anti-school elements. While Supervisor McLaughlin stated that the CBRC meetings were broadcasted for transparency, the real reason it started being broadcasted was because the CBRC was becoming such a source of community tension that, broadcasting the meetings was a way to create more civility and accountability.
Click here to review the meeting that led to the CBRC meetings being televised. Citizen comment 09:30 Minute Mark. Supervisor McLaughlin response 29:15 Minute Mark.
At the February 27th meeting, Supervisor Yakabouski asked County Administrator Taylor to report on how much time and money is being spent on this committee, so the community can place that cost in the context of the money they are saving the County based on their recommendations.