5 Key Strategies You Can Use When Preparing for a Budget Hearing

Resource Government
April 17, 2013 — 824 views  
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It is quite easy to understand the reason behind the disgust and lack of interest that the people who draft the budget each year feel. Preparing a budget involves a huge amount of work that is very boring. It is also not even remotely as fulfilling as being involved in any of the projects that are identified in the budget. However, it needs to be drafted and there is no way around that fact.

The Budgeting Process

Rather than thinking that the budget is a tedious chore, you could acknowledge the helpful nature of a budget. It is essential to ensure that the projects are accomplished in the most practical way possible. A sound, well-defined budgeting process will be a critical component of any efficient and economical government setup. Here are the 5 strategies to prepare for the budget hearing.

1. Strategic Planning: This is the most important step towards the development of a budget. The development of a core-value organizational statement, mission, and vision, and setting up of specific objectives and goals are followed by the allocation of financial resources for each goal. It also helps to understand where the community stands on each issue in the budget. This can be obtained through community forums, citizen surveys, and similar processes for public participation.

2. Draft Goals: Goals are drafted by the staff and governing body, and presented via a process of public participation. These goals convey the desires, promises, and visions of your community and set the philosophic tone of your government.

3. Adopt Goals: Once the governing body has taken sufficient input from the public and made the required changes on the drafted goals, the final goals of the next fiscal year should be adopted. These goals act as a road-map for the government's direction as planned by the governing body.

4. Prepare Budget Based on Goals: The staff then works to develop a draft of the budget based on the goals that were adopted. The budget governing body has the opportunity to then determine whether the adopted goals are achievable with the given constraints of time and revenue, and also to address goals-related issues, if any. The budget has to include capital costs that are incurred on facilities and equipment, and operating costs that include personnel services expenditure and costs of contractual services, utilities, materials and supplies, etc.

5. Adopt Budget and Implement Goals: The adoption of the budget is by resolution or by ordinance. A temporary ordinance could be necessary if the proposed budget has not been adopted at the public hearing.

After the budget is adopted, the projects that are anticipated from the new budget are begun. The governing bodies have to remember the fact that a budget is only a means for an end and that end is the achievement of a goal.

Conveying your Budget Message

A budget message is an important section of the document and is a narrative portion which gives a summary of the important issues, priorities, and assumptions for the next fiscal year. It cannot make any kind of appropriation for any of the budget funds that is in excess of the estimated spendable revenue for that fund in that budget year.

Resource Government