Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates: What Do They Do?
- Beth Cone Kramer
ADVOCATING FOR YOU-Nothing runs without money. No trash pickup, no street cleaning, no public services. One important function of the 97 Neighborhood Councils is contributing to a priority list of neighborhood needs that will be presented to the Mayor as part of the City’s yearly Budget preparation.
It’s the job of the Budget Advocates (NCBA) and Budget Reps to advise the Mayor and the City Council on the City Budget. They also address the state of City Services and for that challenge they are looking for input from concerned residents in their neighborhoods. What’s irking you? Here’s your opportunity to take your complaint beyond a Facebook post or an irritated conversation with the neighbors.
According to their bylaws, each Council is responsible to appoint or elect two Budget Representatives. If the no representative is designated or becomes unavailable, the treasurer and/or president can serve as a de facto Budget Representative.
Budget Representatives on each neighborhood council are responsible for placing on the agendas of their individual neighborhood councils a report from the Budget Advocates as to what activities have taken place between NC meetings.
Budget Advocates are responsible for encouraging board members and stakeholders to participate in Budget Day at City Hall. The annual Budget Day takes place in mid-October. They must also promote the Regional Budget Day in their area, as well as ask board members and Neighborhood Council representatives to work with the Budget Advocates in their areas of interest or expertise.
As they prepare to send recommendations to the Mayor, the Budget Advocates create and send out surveys to get information. The Budget Advocates are charged with publicizing the surveys and encouraging board members and stakeholders to weigh in.
- Elect executive officers.
- Attend twice-monthly meetings and presentations to City Council committees, Mayor.
- Learn about City finance operations, beginning with attendance at Budget Day.
- Research to prepare for meetings.
- Mentor new BAs or work with a mentor if new.
- Assist in developing the Budget Advocate Survey to target specific goal-related concerns with senior staff at City departments regarding White Paper or with senior staff at Council Member’s offices to address City services.
- Review and comment on reports and the White Paper.
- Distribute the survey and encourage participation to ensure demographic spread and numbers for valid results.
- Work with BAs in region to coordinate BA activities on continual basis, as well as send monthly reports to Region’s Budget Reps to report at NC meetings.
- Cooperate with other BAs in region to get help with BA projects.
- Coordinate with other BAs in region to attend all NC meetings as necessary, at least twice yearly per NC to support the work of Budget Reps.
The Budget Representatives of the Neighborhood Councils (NC) are charged with soliciting input from their NC and its stakeholders to spell out the priorities in their specific neighborhoods, as well as formulating suggestions for improving the efficiency of the City, increasing City revenue, and reducing costs. These representatives attend Budget Day to express their NC’s issues of concern and to elect from their ranks the 36 Budget Advocates (BA).
The Budget Representatives are a conduit from the NCs to the BAs, soliciting input from their members on an ongoing basis, not just during the preparation of the Budget. As political issues evolve during the year, they communicate their concerns to the BAs monthly and ensure that a BA report is on every NC agenda.
The Budget Representatives also help coordinate an annual budget event and suggest representatives for the following year.
We’ll be following the work of the Budget Advocates and the issues that are key in each Neighborhood Council as well as suggestions from our readers who are NC constituents. These volunteers – the BAs, the Budget Reps, and all members of the Neighborhood Councils have committed themselves to impacting the City from a grassroots perspective.
Our City can be a better place, a place where we all want to live – but only if we all have a voice.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a CityWatch columnist. This is part of an ongoing series on the work of the 2017-2018 Budget Advocate Committee.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.