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Beginning-of-Year Budget Checklist

The start of a new calendar year is a time for councils to take steps that will improve the budgeting process. Here are some things to consider as the new year begins: 

Budget calendar
Prepare a budget calendar, and have council adopt it by a motion and vote. This helps everyone understand the agreed-upon dates, duties and council responsibilities in preparing the municipality’s annual budget. January serves as a good time for setting a calendar, because councils can do it while also setting their annual regular meeting calendars for SC Freedom of Information Act compliance.

Mid-year budget review
For those whose fiscal year begins July 1, January is a great time to take a look at the budget to see how expenditures are lining up with it. This helps staff to bring needed adjustments to council for consideration. Because councils adopt the budget by ordinance, the only way to amend it is also by ordinance. It’s also a good idea to host a public hearing when amending the budget. 

Begin the new budget process
The annual budget process can begin with a look at the current budget as it stands at mid-year, along with a request for the new budget’s proposed expenditures from department heads and other key leaders, with deadlines for submission. Leaders can then begin the process of projecting revenues, and refining them during the spring as current-year revenues are collected and available information becomes more accurate. 

The Handbook for Municipal Officials in South Carolina has more information on preparing, adopting and executing a budget.