Question: “True or false: A budget work session does not require public notice.”
All budget hearings, including budget work sessions, are public meetings, and must follow state law public notice requirements. That means budget work sessions require a minimum of 24 hours advance notice of the meeting. After the mayor, finance committee chair or administrator/manager (depending on the form of government) has presented the recommended budget, most councils have a budget work session or a series of sessions to carefully review and finalize the budget.
Once a proposed budget has been prepared, state law requires several steps before council can formally adopt the budget.
Posting a public notice about the upcoming budget hearing is the first step in the budget adoption process. The budget hearing notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at least 15 days before the hearing, as mandated by state law.
As outlined in S.C. Code Section 6-1-80, the public notice for every hearing, including work sessions, must be at least two newspaper columns wide, have a bold headline and include
the governing entity’s name; the time, date and location of the public hearing;
the revenue, expenditures and millage for the current fiscal year’s operating budget and for the proposed budget; and the millage rate that is required to generate the needed revenue established in the proposed budget.
Once all work sessions are complete, the finalized budget is presented to council in the form of an ordinance for first reading. State law mandates that all budget ordinances must have at least two readings, with a minimum of six days between each reading.
To make sure all elected officials are knowledgeable about municipal debt and all other areas of local governance, the SC Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government offers training intended for all levels of experience in municipal office.
The institute offers both in-person and online courses. Elected officials who complete all of the required coursework graduate from the institute and receive a certificate. For more information and to register for the March 14 “Basic Budgeting and Municipal Finance” course, visit www.masc.sc (keyword: MEO).