Choosing Priorities in Government Spending


Cleveland Heights, OH

The city council wants more money. They decided to pay a research group to do a survey. You can see the survey at the end of the article in this link.

The survey provides some great insights into how voters perceive city spending. One section in particular where respondents gave their opinion of what cuts they would be more willing to see.

If the tax increase fails, the City will have to cut its budget by about another two and a half million dollars or six percent. Please tell me if you would favor or oppose a six percent cut in each of the following city services. The first one is … Do you favor or oppose a six percent cut in that?

  • Fire protection and EMS service  Favor 10%/82% Oppose
  • Police protection Favor 15%/77% Oppose
  • Trash collection and recycling  Favor 15%/77% Oppose
  • Street repair  Favor 16%/76% Oppose
  •  Snow Plowing  Favor 17%/75% Oppose
  •  Parks and recreation  Favor 25%/64% Oppose

I took the liberty of placing these in the order of importance to the respondents. It may be that voters in Cleveland Heights have have great roads and their EMS service is lacking, but I think it’s more likely these are typical priorities for residents. Voters see some government spending as more important than other government spending. Police and Firefighters showing up when you need help is more important than a city park you may or may not use.

Ranking services and prioritizing spending is not something we hear about when cities want to increase taxes. Instead we hear about cutting schools, roads, or police and fire. This poll shows voters have priorities, city councils should also.

Instead of asking for a tax increase to fund roads or schools elected officials should increase transparency and ask voters for tax increases to fund the city services that are the least important to taxpayers.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Priority Based Budgeting, transparency

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *