It's that time of the year when Town staffers comb through expenditures and incomes, evaluate plans and projections, and put their pencils to paper. It's budget season. You may be surprised that the development of the Town's budget truly is a multi-month affair. But, the process provides the necessary checks and balances to ensure that everything from the high-level goals to the individual line items reflect the Town's commitment to the efficient and sustainable use of taxpayer money.
Budget Development Process
The budget fiscal year covers the calendar year from January 1 – December 31. The Town’s budget process provides for the creation of a budget that meets the service needs of the community within the resources available from previous years and current year revenues.
Each year, the Town Council holds a goal setting retreat with the Town Manager and Department Heads. Together, they identify goals for the future, projects needed to meet these goals, and changes in service levels. Council goals form the basis for the budget.
At the End of June: The Finance Department kicks off the budget process, providing all relevant Town staff with the budget calendar and preparation guide, which ensures consistency between departments.
By August: Budget narratives are submitted by each department highlighting goals, objectives, staffing levels, capital purchases, and significant budget changes. The Finance Department prepares revenue projects.
In the Middle of September: All funds of the Town budget are presented to the Financial Advisory Board. The board reviews each department and division budget and supplemental funds.
In the first half of October: The budget process moves to Town Council work sessions. During this process, additional projects or expenditures are identified, prioritized, and voted on for inclusion into the budget. Following this session, department and division heads make final reviews. All final numbers are made part of the budget resolution. A public hearing is held on the budget and mill levy certification. The Town certifies the mill levy to the Pitkin County Commissioners prior to December 15.
On January 1: The new budget takes effect.
A Citizen’s Financial Advisory Board—consisting of members of the community with a background and/or education in business or public finance, accounting, or budgeting—provides an avenue for public involvement in the budget development process. The Board shares their input and ideas with the Town Manager and Finance Director, and makes budget recommendations during public meetings to Town Council.
The community is invited to submit questions and comments during the Town’s next budgeting process through public hearings, and Community Voice.