Annual Budget Development

The City’s budget process may begin earlier than you think! Below is an overview of the month by month preparation and budget development.

March

In mid-March, each department meets individually with the Mayor and presents its budget as part of the next fiscal year budget process. Departments use the Mayor’s feedback to balance departmental budgets and finalize service policy issues.

After receiving recommendations from the Community Development Advisory Committee and Administrative staff, the Mayor presents federal grant program recommendations for CDBG (Community Development Block Grant), ESG (Emergency Shelter Grant), HOME (Home Investment Partnership Program), and HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids) funding recommendations to the Council during a Council meeting.

The Council will set a date for a public hearing on federal grant programs. Work Session discussions are scheduled to brief the Council on all federal grant program proposals. The Council makes the final determination for all appropriations in April. Groups requesting CDBG and CIP funds generally begin to lobby Council Members. There are always more requests than funds available.

April

During a regular Council meeting, the Council will hold a public hearing on federal grant programs. The Council will take final action on allocation of federal grant funds after the public hearing.

A Council discussion is held on Legislative priorities for the coming year, so that work can begin early. Members of the Council Legislative subcommittee are identified by the Council.

At the Mayor‘s discretion, Council Members may be invited to receive a preview of the next fiscal year budget, including potential revenues and expenditures.

The Council will begin to review Enterprise Fund budgets (Airport and Public Utilities) once received from the Administration. Since these two Departments operate with Advisory Boards, the budgets are prepared and reviewed earlier than the General Fund.

Inform the Executive Director of any major research or audit questions to be addressed during the next fiscal year so the issues can be added to the list the Council will use to prioritize staff workload.

May

Extra Work Sessions may be scheduled in the month of May (meeting every Tuesday and tentatively some Thursdays) to discuss budget items, as the Council only has until mid-June to make any changes and adopt the final fiscal year budget.

The Mayor presents his or her recommended budget during the first formal Council meeting in May. In conjunction with the Mayor‘s presentation, the budget book outlining the full Mayor‘s Recommended Budget (all departments and funds), all related ordinances, and the Library‘s Budget are all also received in the Council Office on the first Tuesday in May, at which time a copy of the budget book will be provided to the Council Members. Ordinances and the Library‘s budget will be included in packets as items are scheduled. On the formal meeting agenda, the Council will adopt a Tentative Budget and set the Public Hearing dates for all items related to the annual budget (City & Library).

During May Work Sessions, each major department and fund will be reviewed, beginning with a Budget Overview staff report on the second Tuesday of the month. The Overview will highlight major revenue or expenditure changes, staffing changes, and any other policy shifts. The remainder of the Department and Fund budgets are scheduled throughout the rest of May along with a briefing from the City Treasurer and the City‘s financial advisor regarding the Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes. A Council staff report will be prepared for each of these briefings.

In addition to Work Session briefings, the Council Members may meet with Council staff in small groups throughout May for closer review of the budget details and to discuss questions or issues.

At the direction of Council Chair and Vice Chair, the Council staff aims at scheduling each department and fund briefing by the end of May to allow time for follow-up and different budget scenarios to be explored. By the end of May, agendas will include an Unresolved Budget Issues discussion to provide responses or new information to Council Members. In addition, the staff will prepare a Key Changes worksheet that lists options raised by Council Members so that the Council can take a straw poll during a Work Session and gauge support for any changes to the Mayor‘s Recommended Budget.

The budget Public Hearing is generally held starting the 3rd Tuesday of May and continued to the fourth Tuesday in May. Members of the public may also address the Council during any scheduled Public Comment section.

It is helpful for Council Members to identify their budget questions or ideas as early as possible so that staff can research the issue or follow-up with the Administration. Each of these steps help the Council to work toward an agreement on any changes to the Mayor‘s Recommended Budget. With all of these preliminary steps in place, the Council will be ready to receive and adjust their budget decisions based on receipt of property tax numbers from the County. (According to State Law, the final property tax numbers are due from the County to the cities on or before June 8th of each year. The final property tax numbers are a
major component to adopting a balanced budget, however based on the County‘s process and the State‘s requirement, the cities are not aware of any changes to their base property tax number until this June 8 deadline.)

Meetings in June will be focused on finalizing any changes to the Mayor‘s Recommended Budget, confirming any Legislative Intent Statements, and preparing motions for the Council‘s adoption. (State Code requires that cities adopt their budgets by June 22 of each year.)

June

According to State Law, the final property tax numbers are due from the County to the cities on or before June 8th of each year. The final property tax numbers are a major component to adopting a balanced budget, however based on the County‘s process and the State‘s requirement, the cities are not aware of any changes to their base property tax number until this June 8 deadline. Cities are guaranteed the amount budgeted in the previous fiscal year; however there are some calculations that may affect the final amount to be received. These variations include disputes or judgments, new growth, prior year judgments, etc.

Annual budgets are commonly adopted at the second or third Council meeting of the month. Although the timetable varies from year-to-year, the Council must adopt the annual budgets before June 22nd of each year to comply with State law. The joint City-County Landfill budget may be amended during this time. Following is additional information regarding the budget process and staff work:

  • Council staff will follow-up on any items raised by Council Members during briefings or small group meetings. Council Members may also raise questions or ideas with the Executive Director or a staff member.
  • Larger policy issues within a department’s budget may be scheduled for a separate or follow-up briefing depending on the Council’s preference.
  • Council Members may identify Legislative Intent statements during the process of reviewing department budgets and these statements are reviewed by the full Council and then adopted as part of the budget. Legislative Intent Statements are the mechanisms to communicate the Council’s requests and desires to the Administration. They are not binding on the Administration. It is most effective to limit the use of legislative intents to the Council’s highest priority items.
  • The following is the usual format for the Council’s budget review sessions during a Work Session meeting:
    • Council staff will highlight major policy issues and list options identified by Council staff. Staff reports will address priorities expressed by the Council’s previous policy decisions, financial policies
      and adopted ordinances, goals established by the Council, national trends and public policy in general. If any Council Member is interested in an alternative to information prepared by staff, please
      contact the Executive Director as soon as possible so an alternative memo can be prepared for the Council Member’s signature or the issue can be researched from the Council Member’s point of view.
    • The department director and Administrative staff will respond and/or raise other issues. The Administration staff is obligated to support the Mayor’s recommended budget and thus generally does
      not have the flexibility to suggest alternative budget approaches. The Council has the final authority with regard to budgeting (subject to Mayoral veto).
    • Council Members ask questions relating to the department’s budget. Due to time constraints, each department’s budget is usually discussed during a Work Session only once, so it is best if all concerns, questions and ideas are raised at this time.
    • The Council Chair will take a “straw poll” on options raised during briefings.
    • The Council generally conducts straw polls on legislative intent statements as well. These are the mechanisms to communicate the Council’s requests and desires to the Administration. They are not
      binding on the Administration.
  • Once the department budget reviews have been completed, Council staff will provide a “straw poll” wrap-up — a summary of straw polls taken by the Council and an indication of the “gap” between what the Council has indicated it would like to do and available resources.
  • The Council will then prioritize cuts and/or additions proposed during straw polls. Council staff will provide a listing of further opportunities for revenue enhancements, service level changes, etc. At this point, any opportunity is “fair game;” anything raised previously may be listed for reconsideration.
  • The Council generally holds a final budget discussion at which time the Council takes its final straw polls. Members are encouraged to inform the rest of the Council and the staff if they disagree with the majority opinion and plan to raise an alternative course of action on budget adoption night. This will allow advance preparation of necessary motions, budget figures or legal documents.
  • Council staff will re-balance the budget based on the Council’s direction. Staff will prepare a list of necessary motions (in the form of changes to the Mayor’s Recommended Budget) to approve the budget in keeping with the direction articulated by the straw polls. In addition, motions are prepared to address any accounting changes the Administration needs to make. Beyond this, the staff will prepare motions to implement alternate budget scenarios as requested by Council Members in the minority on the straw polls. Members wishing to have motions included need to work with staff to assure their motions are included as desired.

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