Developing the Budget
The Town’s budget calendar is planned out and approved by Council in December. This includes a budget retreat over multiple days which consists of strategic planning sessions preceding the official budget process. Every year, these goals and priorities are evaluated and modified extensively. This process is conducted with Council, Town Manager, Assistant Town Manager and Finance Director (DFD). Information from these sessions is then carried over to the start of the official budgeting process and communicated to Department Heads.
Beginning in January, TM, ATM and DFD meet with each department head and pass along the budget goals and objectives from Council’s retreat at this time. The Department Head uses this guidance to input a “Draft 1” budget, update/amend the 10-year CIP schedule and submit capital and personnel requests to Finance. The draft 1 budget starts as the current year budget, which both Finance and the Department Heads have access to modify and add/deduct for the upcoming year. Any change or confirmation of a number from the prior year budget detail made by the Department head is signified with a “D.” at the beginning of the account detail description, and anything edited by the Deputy Finance Director shows an “A.”. Each party knows who input/confirmed the budget figure and if it has been done or not based on this key.
Management, Finance and the Department head come back together for another meeting to review the detail budget, as completed by Dept. Head and Finance, as applicable, the 10-Year CIP, Personnel requests, and any other details affecting the department. Finance makes any changes discussed in this meeting. The detail budget is then not touched by the Department Head again after this meeting. Finance produces the reports for this department for the Council Budget Workshop.
There are approximately 8 Council Workshops that follow this general path:
Budget Retreat – goals and priorities
Draft 1 - Council, Town Clerk, Administration, Finance, Communications
Draft 1 - HR, IT, Econ Dev, Planning and Zoning
Draft 1 - Deputies, Fire
Draft 1 - Engineering, Streets, Powell Bill, Environmental Protection, Water/Sewer, Storm Water
Draft 1 – Revenues, funding decisions, tax rate, adjustment to Council Priorities
Draft 2 – All Departments, CIP, Personnel
Draft 2 – Full picture, Draft of Manager’s Recommended Budget
May Council Meeting – Presentation of MRB
June Council Meeting – Adoption of Budget
Adopting the Budget
The public has an opportunity to comment on the budget during the Budget workshops, all open to the public, the May Council meeting and during the Public Hearing at the June meeting. One public hearing is required for formal adoption of the budget. State law also requires the Town Council to adopt a balanced budget, in which current revenues equal current expenditures, prior to June 30 of each year. By law, a revenue neutral budget is also required to be presented to Council every four years, based on the County’s revaluation process. This was required for FY2017 budget and is also required for FY2021. Amendments to the budget are allowable under North Carolina law and are made throughout the year as necessary.
Budgets are prepared and input into the financial accounting software at an account level detail, based on final approved budget. Budget to actual reports are prepared and reviewed throughout the year. Council is provided a budget-actual report each month as well.