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Begin preparing now for next year's budget

Although the new fiscal year might be months away, it’s never too early to start preparing the budget calendar.

Budget timetables should be established, noting when various tasks are to be completed and by whom. Tasks include:

  • Forecasting revenues to be received as well as expenditures made.
  • Identifying any new programs or projects that would require funding from the new budget.
  • Identifying any new liabilities that might affect personnel costs, such as increases in insurance or retirement contributions.
  • Setting dates for department managers or supervisors to submit funding requests for the upcoming year. These should include funding for proposed manpower levels in each respective department as well as any requests for purchasing capital items.
  • Establishing workshop dates when council can review the overall budget work plan and discuss any special projects requiring funding as well as any challenges when expenditure requests exceed revenue projections.
  • Setting the public hearing date for the budget. Remember that a detailed notice must be placed in the local newspaper at least 15 days before the budget hearing. That hearing can be held on a separate date or the same dates as the first or second readings of the budget. A hearing is required before the final passage of the budget by the council.
  • Setting dates for first and second readings on the budget so that the final reading is completed before the beginning of the city’s fiscal year.

The budget process is rarely a simple task and can often be a grueling process for councilmembers and employees alike. However, taking time to establish a reasonable budget calendar can help officials and staff reduce the anxiety. The new budget may still be a challenging one, but it will not be because of failure to plan ahead.