Danville to try out zero-based budgeting process in effort to save money

Process will be implemented in two departments

DANVILLE, Va. – When Danville city council members sit down to begin putting the city's next budget together, they'll take what is known as a zero-based budget approach to two city departments.

City manager Ken Larking says which two departments hasn't been determined yet.

"We had a challenging budget year last year, so city council is looking for ways to see if they can trim the budget; make sure that we're only paying for the services that the city and the citizens are desiring to have."

A zero-based budget approach means instead of the city giving the two departments the same amount of money as the previous budget year and then adjusting from there, department heads will have to justify each service they provide.

That means some services could be eliminated.

"Just like in any budget process, there's tough decisions that are going to have to be made."

If enough money is saved, it may allow the city to pay for services in the future without having to raise taxes or make big budget cuts.

Councilman James Buckner and Lee Vogler have been pushing for a zero-based budget approach.

Buckner campaigned on the idea in 2014.

"There's a lot of money that could be saved. There's money out there that's very much wasted."

"I'd love to do it to all the departments. That's something we can revisit every two years, or annually if need be."

If the idea proves worthwhile, it will be used on two different departments in the following budget year.

Buckner said a decision about which two departments to focus on will likely be made by the next council meeting.

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