A special district local annual budget indicates an agency’s projected revenue and costs, as well as its plan for the future—what revenue will pay for which departmental services and for whom those services exist. Development of the annual budget in the public sector is more than just number crunching; it reflects a strategic plan and its conception should consider the needs and priorities of all stakeholders. The development, approval, and implementation of a public agency’s budget are critical steps of the budget process.
As the saying goes, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” You won’t be able to get anywhere worth going if things are out of order, and that certainly rings true in the case of local government budgeting and planning processes. There is a proper order to ensure your funds are spent wisely.
To address these challenges, several popular approaches to the budget process such as incremental budgeting, zero-base budgeting, and priority-based budgeting have been used by governments. However, all have their drawbacks and none are ideal in all situations. As governments now focus extra attention on the budget amid the global recession and pandemic, improving the quality of budgeting is critical to long-term financial sustainability and trust in government.
Local governments must answer some budgeting questions to improve the budgeting process. The following are recommended key topics to help in preparing your annual budget:
- What is the best way to budget for my local government?
- Why is budgeting important beyond the finance office?
- How can governments best allocate resources?
- Which budget practices improve equitable provision of services?
- How can a budget encourage alignment with community priorities?
- How to overcome significant technical challenges in budgeting.
- How can governments adjust, survive and thrive during a crisis?
Paul J. Kaymark, CPA is an Audit Services Partner with CSDA Business Affiliate Nigro & Nigro, PC. Paul can be reached at#Finance#Budget
firstname.lastname@example.org or (951) 698-8783.