Budget Process & Documents
The Budget Process helps citizens navigate the development, evaluation, adoption, and implementation of the annual budget. It is also intended to help citizens understand the informed choices of decision makers about the allocation of funds and to promote stakeholder participation in the process. Some of the key characteristics of the budget process are:
- Incorporating a long-term perspective
- Establishing a link to broad organizational goals
- Focusing budget decisions on results and outcomes
- Involving and promoting effective communication with stakeholders
- Providing efficient government management and operations
The Capital Improvements Program
The budget process begins with the a proposed Capital Improvements Program (CIP), which outlines recommended capital projects over five years. Although the proposal spans five years, only the first year of the CIP is funded, based on a vote of the City Council. Preparing for the CIP begins in early fall each year. Each City department presents requests for the next fiscal year to the City Manager. The City Manager evaluates department CIP proposals and, through discussions with the various departments, develops a CIP Plan for submittal to the City Council. The City Manager presents the CIP Plan to the City Council in November or December for review and consensus approval. The City Council votes to approve the five-year CIP and any planned bond authorizations for first-year projects requiring debt financing.
The Annual Operating Budget
Each winter, City departments develop and submit budget requests to the City Manager for the next fiscal year. These requests are based on the needs of each department for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. These requests include the first year of the CIP. Generally, through February, the City Manager reviews budget requests from all City departments and creates a comprehensive budget proposal.
The City Manager submits the proposed municipal budget to the municipal Budget Committee, convened by Charter no later than the first week in March and comprised of the entire City Council. The Budget Committee conducts public meetings to review and create a proposed budget. The Superintendent of Schools follows a similar process with the School Budget Committee.
Also by Charter, no later than the first Monday in May, the Budget Committee is required to deliver a proposed budget to the City Council. Within 14 days following delivery of the proposed budget a summary of the Budget Committee recommendation must be published in the local paper. The City Council must hold at least one public hearing on the proposed budget. Separate hearings are held for the municipal and school budgets. The City Council adopts the final budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.
Revisions to the Budget
Adjustments to the budget can be made in one of three manners: A City department (excluding the schools) may transfer appropriations between accounts with City Manager approval. The City Manager may request transfers of appropriations between departments with majority approval of the City Council. The City Council may amend the budget by appropriating additional revenue or raising taxes before the tax rate is set. This requires a two-thirds vote.
Monthly Budget Reports
The Finance Director provides a monthly financial report to the Finance Committee on the previous month’s financial activity, including but not limited to, revenues, expenditures, cashflow, and the general financial outlook. The meeting minutes, Committee packet materials, and meeting videos are available through the meeting archive tool.
- The Finance Department makes all Budget Documents available for the current Fiscal Year as well as an archive of budget information dating back to Fiscal Year 2010.