Residents take part in extensive budget consultation

Article image - Residents take part in extensive budget consultation An extensive new consultation process was implemented at Borough of Queenscliffe to craft this year’s budget.

Giving residents more and easier ways to take part in financial decision making has helped Victoria’s Borough of Queenscliffe deliver a community minded budget and improve community perceptions of Council consultation. 

Running from October 2019 to May this year, the Borough’s consultation was a complete transformation from previous years, focusing on clear communication and more accessible consultation activities. 

Council broke down its annual financial spend into colour coded categories and asked residents whether they wanted to increase or decrease spending in each category. Sophisticated backend logic within the survey also asked follow-up questions about which projects within each category Council should prioritise, and why residents prioritised certain categories over others.

Borough of Queenscliffe Chief Executive Officer, Martin Gill, said, “The average participant took more than 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire, which shows how considered and thoughtful our residents were in providing their feedback. 

“With nearly 1 in 9 Borough residents taking part in the consultation, it was an extremely popular consultation. We even had a large number of school students taking part.” 

The result of the extensive consultation was a detailed dataset that showed where residents felt funding priorities should change, and which projects should be prioritised in the coming financial year. 

Council officers used this feedback to create a more community minded budget and to focus communication on projects and categories residents were most interested in. 

The project has been one of the highlights of the Borough’s new approach to engagement, which saw significant improvements in resident perceptions of Council’s community consultation as part of the 2020 Community Satisfaction Survey.

Despite coronavirus restrictions, the project came to a conclusion in May, when Council’s draft budget presentation was streamed live to residents on the Borough’s social media channels, including an interactive Q&A with residents and journalists.