Preparing, submitting, and following a well-designed budget should be a cornerstone of all local governments. The budget provides valuable information to both citizens and other stakeholders when its preparation is done thoughtfully.
Read below to learn about best practices for local government budgeting.
Follow a Specific Budgeting Process
To prepare a budget, begin months before the next fiscal year. Set specific steps, milestones, and deadlines that help move the budget along. Gather historical information to guide the budgeting team on how past budgets were prepared. Also, collect as much financial information about special circumstances as possible (e.g., one-time grants, infrequent large purchases, etc.).
Consistency in the budgeting process from year to year is key. Preparing a budget should be expected…not a surprise. And like with most things in life, the more you do it, the better you become at that skill.
Consider Annual Goals from Numerous Sources
Budgets work best when priorities are established from the start. So, ask early – what are the municipality’s goals for the year? What are the citizen’s goals? Ideas for goals and priorities should come from a variety of sources, not just the city’s leadership.
Solicit Input from ALL Departments
Similar to the suggestion above, get input from all city departments so the final budget is realistic. It further helps to create buy-in because teams feel they have a say in how money is spent. Lastly, it’s a fact-finding mission. For example, two departments may discuss similar goals, which helps city leaders budget money more wisely.
Share the Budget with Stakeholders
Getting the budget finished is not the end goal. There’s one more step – communicate it to stakeholders (i.e., government leaders, department heads, citizens and all affected parties). Use several formats to do this – through email, printed copies, the city website and social media. Using various formats gives it maximum reach to stakeholders.
Morgan & Associates Know Local Government Budgeting
If your local government is looking to improve its budgeting practices, contact us. With decades of experience in city budgeting, we’re ready to help. You and your team don’t have to do it alone.