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Neighborhood Involvement

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the City’s Financial Impact & Public Involvement Statement (FIPIS) for Council Action Items.  Please click on a question below or scroll down to see responses to all the questions.

 

Why do I have to fill out this form when this information is already included in other reports/documents?

  

Do I have to fill this out if there is no fiscal impact?

  

How do I know when public involvement is necessary? Is there a tool that can help me determine this?

What if Public Involvement is not necessary?

 

If a Council item involves a small amount of money, do I still have to fill out this form?

  

We are just implementing something Council decided on already.  Do I have to fill this form out?

 

I just developed a Request for Proposal and selected a contractor.  Why do I have to fill out this form?

What if I have no resources to conduct PI?  What if I have no budget for PI?

  

Where can I receive further assistance / resources regarding fiscal impacts?

Where can I get help or further resources with public involvement?

 

ANSWERS TO Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why do I have to fill out this form when this information is already included in other reports/documents?

City Council has set a goal of improving the quality and consistency of public involvement across city government. While some items going before city council will have their own reporting on public involvement, many do not. The FIPIS form is intended to provide a single, consistent, and easily accessed source of data that will provide a basic information on public involvement related to every item going before City Council.

In many cases, staff may find that the information is duplicative of information that is already listed elsewhere.  Staff are encouraged to cut and paste from existing reports.  As one Commissioner’s office mentioned that this form was very helpful because it would serve as an “executive summary of the executive summary”

This is the executive summary for financial information and should provide all relevant summary financial data in one place for the reader.

Do I have to fill this out if there is no fiscal impact?

  

Yes. All Council actions, including ordinances, resolutions and reports, require a statement regarding the fiscal impact of an action.

The statement itself is what is required and can include that there is no fiscal impact. Historically many bureaus have indicated that there is ‘no fiscal impact’ when, in fact, there are costs involved. Requiring the statements forces the process necessary to determine if there are costs either direct or indirect. Please note that the Financial Impact Statement is not limited to:

  • New costs
  • Unbudgeted costs
  • Current year costs

Indirect Costs - For example, you may be submitting a master plan in the form of a report or resolution for Council’s overall support. The bureau may not incur any direct costs as a result of the legislation, but may be asking Council to agree to a series of concepts, plans or strategies that in order to implement will result in costs. Boilerplate language might include:

“Acceptance of this report does not result in an immediate fiscal impact, however future implementation of this entire xyz master plan would result in estimated costs of $xx . This is a low confidence planning cost estimate that reflects current year dollars. “

How do I know when public involvement is necessary? Is there a tool that can help me determine this? 

Assessing the need for and appropriate levels of public involvement for a project is not an exact science. City staff who are experienced often develop a good sense over time of what’s appropriate and what isn’t for a particular project.

Fortunately, many best practices in project assessment have become evident. The City’s Public Involvement Level Assessment Toolkit (developed by city staff and community members working together on the BIP 9 project) walks you through a checklist of common factors that correspond to higher and lower levels of public involvement. The toolkit also includes a chart of public involvement methods and tools appropriate to different levels public involvement.

This toolkit offers ten assessment questions:

  1. What is the anticipated level of conflict, opportunity, controversy, or concern on this or related issues?
  2. How significant are the potential impacts to the public?
  3. How much do the major stakeholders care about this issue, project, or program?
  4. What degree of involvement does the public appear to desire or expect?
  5. What is the potential for public impact on the proposed decision or project?
  6. How significant are the possible benefits of involving the public?
  7. How serious are the potential ramifications of NOT involving the public?
  8. What level of public participation does Council and/or bureau directors desire or expect?
  9. What is the possibility of broad public interest?
  10. What is the probable level of difficulty in solving the problem or advancing the project?

  

What if Public Involvement is not necessary?

 

Check “no” on question #4 and explain you how you came to this conclusion. Common reasons for not including public involvement could include:

  1. low impact on the community,
  2. little community interest,
  3. activity largely internal to city government processes,
  4. low cost and low impact,
  5. low potential for controversy
  6. emergency action was required,
  7. etc….

  If a Council item involves a small amount of money, do I still have to fill out this form?

Yes. All Council actions, including ordinances, resolutions and reports, require a statement regarding the fiscal impact of an action.

What is considered “small’ or ‘insignificant’ may vary depending upon the context of the action, the bureau involved and the audience reading the item. As all Council documents are posted online in advance of each Council session, the audience includes private citizens, advocates and other interested parties as well as members of Council.

Transparency dictates that bureaus report the known or estimated fiscal impact and allow the reader to decide for him or herself if the potential cost is significant enough to sway their support of an action. Providing the financial data gives the reader the tools to make an informed conclusion and Council to make a more informed decision.

The Impact form is intended to capture information on all the items going before City Council. A project involving a small amount of money often may have little impact in the community, but it, also, may, in some cases, be potentially controversial or be a source of great interest to some segment of the community.

 We are just implementing something Council decided on already.  Do I have to fill this form out?

Yes. It is important to highlight the financial impact of actions that will serve to re-inform Council as well as provide context and information to the broader audience.

The Impact form is intended to capture information on all the items going before City Council—that includes all the various stages of a project that are brought before City Council.

For instance, although City Council may have approved a project, different implementation phases may have their own public involvement issues and needs. For instance, development of a project proposal may require one approach to public involvement, while the implementation of the proposal may require its own type public outreach and involvement.

 

I just developed a Request for Proposal and selected a contractor.  Why do I have to fill out this form?

The development of a Request for Proposal sometimes can benefit from community input. Community members can surface important issues and impacts that might not have been considered by City staff.

Also, the City of Portland requires that “minority evaluators” serve on contractor evaluation and selection panels. See:  ADM-1.18 - Minority Evaluator on Contractor Evaluation and Selection Panels; http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?a=293198&c=26882

What if I have no resources to conduct PI?  What if I have no budget for PI?

Ultimately, like any other function of city government, city bureaus need to plan ahead to ensure that adequate resources are available to conduct effective and appropriate public involvement.

City staff can look for ways to reduce the cost of individual elements of a public involvement plan, such as:

  • co-hosting public involvement meetings and events with community groups that can provide free space.

 

  Where can I receive further assistance / resources regarding fiscal impacts?

 Where can I get help or further resources with public involvement? 

What are the consequences if I don’t fill out the Impact Statement?

 

The City Council has directed city staff to fill out the Impact Statement for all ordinances, resolutions, and reports going before council.

OMF financial analysts for each bureau will be checking to be sure the financial impact questions are filled out. Bureaus must complete the financial impact section of the document and if they neglect to, Financial Planning Division (FPD) can contact the bureaus’ Commissioner-in-charge and request that the item is pulled from Council Calendar and not resubmitted until financial impact information is provided to FPD.

 

While no similar standardized review process will be in place to ensure that the public involvement questions are answered, individual bureaus may set up their own internal processes to route the form to a central public involvement staff person for review.

In any case, individual City Commissioners have said they will be looking to see whether the public involvement questions have been answered. Members of the public also will be looking for this information.

 

 

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