I got some lively responses from my first post. I’ll try to answer some of the observations in my subsequent posts.

Let’s continue the discussion of service levels. The mayor (some prefer me to call him that instead of Jerry so we’ll try it out) has stated that he intends to maintain municipal service levels. Some have questioned the accuracy of that statement when we have said that we don’t have an accurate way of measuring service levels. As you’ll see in a moment, both statements are true and can be completely reconciled.

The conversation begins with the difference between outputs and outcomes. The city has always measured outputs: library and pool hours; number of programs served by our arts and culture program funding; number of police officers on the streets; miles of streets slurry-sealed, etc. That is what the city has always reported as its levels of service — and that’s exactly what will continue into FY08.

From that perspective, there will be no change in the services that our citizens receive this coming fiscal year. In fact, in some cases, there will be increases in the levels of service. For example, the mayor’s budget will increase street repair funding by 96 percent. In FY08, 134.4 miles of street repairs will take place. This is an increase of more than 448 percent since Sanders took office.

So, if we want to define service levels that way, that will work.

The mayor is not satisfied with that approach — he believes measuring service levels in this fashion to be unscientific and more anecdote than fact. Mayor Sanders instead wishes to measure outcomes. As an example, when speaking of street service levels in the future, we wouldn’t simply report on the number of streets repaved. Instead an outcome-based service level would measure whether we repaved the streets most in need. When we discussed library hours, we would discuss whether or not changing the library hours would serve more citizens. It’s really the difference in between working hard and working smart with limited resources.

Measuring service levels by outcome is not easy and it will take time to set up processes to measure our progress. That’s what the Mayor’s Management Plan is all about. The mayor’s staff has reported to the council that we’ll be working on that over the next year in anticipation of the FY09 budget submission. According to the city of Phoenix, it took them over 10 years to put a similar plan in place, so putting together a plan in one year is Herculean.

I’ll next address some of your very constructive feedback.

— FRED SAINZ

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