Why do governments budget?
As a practical matter, most public and private organizations prepare budgets in order to manage their finances properly. Governments have two other primary reasons for creating budgets; prioritization of services and legal requirements. Governments provide facilities and public services to meet their citizens' needs that are paid for with public funds. When there is not enough revenue to provide for all the citizens' needs, compromises must be made. The budget process provides a mechanism where elected officials, after hearing the diverse views of the citizens, taxpayers, and other interested parties, can compromise and prioritize spending. The second reason for the creation of a budget is to meet the legal requirements of the State.
What are the legal responsibilities of the Town Manager and Town Board regarding budget setting?
The Town Manager presents the proposed budget for the upcoming year to the Board which must be presented not later than October 15 of each year. The Town Board may increase, decrease, or delete individual items in the proposed budget except for the debt service expenditures. The Town Manager must propose, and the Town Board must adopt, a balanced budget in its final form not later than December 15 of each year.
How are spending decisions made?
The Town Board makes the final decisions on what is included in the budget and what the funding levels will be. Before these decisions are made, information, recommendations, and preferences are provided by a wide range of citizens and community groups, which have an interest in government programs an finances. All of these participants contribute to the final decisions each year on what are the most important citizen needs for public services and facilities in the Town of Frederick and their funding levels.
How can I express my opinion to elected officials about the budget?
The most direct means of addressing elected officials regarding the budget is by participating in a public budget hearing. These public hearings are held in the evening at Town Hall. Notice of a Budget public hearing appears in the newspaper about two weeks before the hearing. If you wish to speak, you may sign up at the public hearing site that evening of the hearing.
Once the budget is approved, can it be changed?
After the final approval of the budget by the Town Board, only limited types of changes can be made. A department may transfer its own funds internally from one expenditure category to another in the same fund should the need arise. Money cannot be moved from one fund to another without approval of the Town Board.
Supplementary appropriations that may be needed require the recommendation of the Town Manager and approval of the Town Board. Sufficient funds must be available for such appropriation.