Saturday, August 04, 2007

Budget - To Balance or not to Balance in Nov, That is the Question

Should the Mayor present a balanced budget to City Council in November to? Balanced budgets have previously been presented in November, which Council then disassembled and reassembled to better serve the community. It was a coordinated effort and it was effective, but would it have been any less effective if the budget presented in November was not balanced?

If a budget is presented in November that is not balanced, Council is given an opportunity to look at the requests of city departments not just the requests as adjusted by the Administration. If a balanced budget is presented in November, Council is still expected to review and adjust the budget, not just rubber stamp a balanced budget.

On a much smaller scale, I’ve worked on budget committees, though smaller, the process was the same: departments submitted their budget requests to finance; finance calculated expected income; department budgets were returned and given another opportunity to make their own adjustments. Finance then submitted the budget (usually not balanced) to the council who then recommended adjustments to departments so the budget would balance.

For the benefit of the City, it is essential that the City Council and Administration work together to provide the most effective balanced budget possible each year. On council, I’ll work through either process with other council members and the Administration knowing the requirement is to balance the budget by March of each year


The Lure-Man said...

A Balanced Budget? WHY NOT REQUIRE that our "STRONG MAYOR" submit a balanced-budget to City Council in November? Our former City Managers, were always required to do so.

C'mon now! Have you ever tried running a Small Business without a balanced budget?
If you have; I'll just bet that it sure wasn't for very long, anyway!
A "Small-Business" doesn't usually have the added luxury of a "12-person-panel" (made of its most loyal customers) to oversee its spending choices!

Remember from way back in accounting 101?
Rule 301.3 on page 518, section 2b.
(To balance a projected budget:
X number of dollars in required expenses,
shall at no time,
exceed that identical number of dollars of normal income!)

Instead of micro-managing the individual departments of the city ~ 'Hissonner' should have already made the HARD CHOICES for funding them ~ before ~ HIS budget is EVER presented to city-council, for its scrutiny, corrections (where ever necessary) and final approval!

I guess I shouldn't have said that, because City Council seems to have no say at all, in how 'Hissonner' spends our money! Nor we, in how he obtains our tax-monies!
But, all these years, I always thought that controlling the spending, was an integral part of our city-council's job description!

Hmmmmmmmm! Maybe I'm wrong?

Karen SHANAHAN said...

Lure-man: I don't care how it's presented to Council in November, balanced or otherwise, if the Administration choses to hand it over unbalance, then I say, Council goes for it and fixes it. If presented balanced, Council goes through it and revises in the best interest of the community. Council is 12, I have no idea how many at the Administration side are involved, but final is a requirement to balance it by March.

What is essential is the proper format for presenting the budget to Council, an excel spreadsheet at least allows analysis. The 300+ document appears to be a pivot table type document used to provide totals and some analysis of the budget, but a PDF file does not allow for in depth study. In my opinion, this is a crucial issue. I spent hours taking apart the PDF file after converting it into the SS so it was a document which could be sorted and further analysis completed.

We can do this process better, how much better I can't determine as I've not been part of the process.

I find your 2 comments almost in conflict with each other:

ssonner' should have already made the HARD CHOICES.... I guess I shouldn't have said that, because City Council seems to have no say at all, in how 'Hissonner' spends our money! ....I always thought that controlling the spending, was an integral part of our city-council's job description!" So when it's all said and done, you are almost as conflicted on the issue as I. I say... let's work with what we're handed, not whine but go for the gusto... fix it!