“We’re All Stakeholders in the Budget” View PDF
We all have a stake in the City budget that is likely being presented as we speak.
CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET
Although the budget that will be adopted by the City Council is technically called “the City Manager’s Budget,” the City Manager relies on a team of staff to build and present the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Each year, hundreds of hours of staff time are invested by all Departments, beginning in January, to research, analyze, crunch numbers, write reports, and prepare the City budget for presentation by the City Manager to the City Council.
The budget could never possibly be effective in meeting the goals of your City without input from all staff, including line employees and managers. For example, the feedback of the City Custodian is critical to the City Manager. The City Custodian provides interesting organizational intelligence from a unique perspective. The Custodian at your City often knows more specific information than anybody else about what is going on at City Hall (who do you think reads what’s in your trash can each night?). Something you don’t think about often, but interesting, right?
Every staff member should feel empowered to help out and speak up. To give input on the preparation of their Department’s budget request is the duty of all staff. Some staff members will say “nobody listens to me,” or “they don’t care what I think.” It is the responsibility of those staff members to be proactive and get involved in the City’s budget. And if you are reading this newsletter, and it rings true to you, this is your year! Speak up! Your Director and City Manager will appreciate your feedback because you are the one on the front lines of community services, and you are closest to the public. Who knows, you might get promoted someday because of your conscientiousness, simply for getting involved.
You don’t want to be the person to use this time of year as an excuse to complain. Instead, turn your complaints into an opportunity to offer constructive recommendations for improving the budget or to solve organizational issues in your Department. If you’re one of those City employees who is just a crabby complainer who does not offer any suggestions for improvement, stop reading this newsletter, this article is not for you.
EVERYTHING INVOLVES MONEY…
The City budget is the single most important fiscal policy document approved by the City Council each year in June. The budget of a City organization wields the power of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars of spending authority for everything from paper clips to employee pension costs for its community.
Money is a part of just about every single decision of your City. Look at all staff reports that go before the City Council – they all have a “Fiscal Impact” section which is vital to highlight the financial cost/benefit of the agenda item.
Even though the revenue picture has been improving recently, we have to accept the new reality that the golden years of 1987 to 2007 are gone and won’t be seen for many years to come. The golden handshakes and generous pension benefits are also a thing of a generation of the past. These changes are why it’s so important now for all employees to get involved in recommending solutions to financial, organizational, and community issues. These solutions can be addressed, and perhaps implemented, in the City budget that will be considered by your organization on or before June 30.
Everybody has a stake in the budget. Stakeholders include the citizens, businesses, developers, vendors, employees, and of course County, State and Federal government agencies who partner with your City to deliver vital public services to your community.
Yes, the budget is serious business precisely because it involves money. This is precisely why you must get involved!
Of course, we have all worked for those backward leaders who did not want the input of City employees, but those guys are a dying breed. They have mostly retired and left local government. The new leadership is progressive and takes a sincere interest in the ideas of the people at City Hall who make a difference in their budget and in the communities that they serve.
We now have 30-somethings in leadership positions in City government (Millenials), as well as some great 70-somethings still kicking it! We love to see the explosive energy that is firing ideas in different directions to generate new topics for discussion and offer new solutions to old problems in the City budget.
Diversity in City management is a policy objective of growing interest to many elected officials and leaders at City Hall, and for good reasons. City Hall reflects the communities it serves and the diverse group of people within it provides opportunities for synergistic relationships and valuable ideas for the budget.
Truly, these are exciting times to be working in public service. The opportunities for improving the organizations that serve our communities are great. We just need to continue to get more of the younger generation to look at careers in City government. We also want to encourage those “up and comers” to take advantage of opportunities to learn from the older ones who are still kicking it at City Hall.
Millenials are now leading City organizations, and they’re here to stay. And that’s a great thing!
At the same time, we must recognize the City Managers and Department Heads who have spent the last 30 or 40 years of their lives focused on the implementation of best management practices and professional public management in their Cities.
Your progressive leadership was much appreciated!
SO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR CITY BUDGET…
Thus, whether you’re the Maintenance Worker in Public Works, or the Customer Service Representative in Finance, or the Park Attendant in Community Services, you should get involved in your City budget. One great way to get involved would be to attend any remaining public hearings for adoption of your City’s budget if possible.
What City Manager has been under a sewer manhole, or had to turn off a resident’s water service, or observed the atrocities in city park restrooms? Few if any, which is why the City Manager would love to hear your ideas!
Share your ideas with your Supervisor or Manager, who can then request additions or changes to next year’s budget. There may still be time in your Budget Calendar.
Perhaps you have a revenue-generating idea that will not impact local residents. Or perhaps you have a cost-saving idea that will generate money to pay for a new service. Or perhaps you have a need for some tools or new software that will improve customer service while paying for itself from cost-reimbursement or cost-savings in the budget.
Get your ideas in to your Department Director or designated budget person ASAP. Don’t bring them forward at the 11th hour when Finance has already loaded the budget into the budget module and printed the Preliminary or Proposed Budget for distribution for the budget public hearing.
And if it is too late for this year, there’s always Mid-Year Budget to give your feedback. And remember that the next cycle of budget preparation is just six months away!
So get involved in your City budget…now!
I LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK…
A big thanks to my municipal colleagues who continue to share their thoughts and ideas with me. I value your ideas and experience in City government. Please continue to email or call me with your feedback on topics for my CitySpeak newsletters.
I love your feedback!
MUNITEMPS IS HERE TO HELP…
And remember, MuniTemps is here for you should you need temporary help to fill a staff vacancy in your Department next fiscal year.
As president of MuniTemps – Municipal Staffing Solutions, I have served many Cities and Special Districts as Finance Director. My team and I understand municipal organizations, the budget, the CAFR, and the nuances of municipalities in serving their communities.
I wish us all success as we work through the challenges and opportunities to adopt next year’s spending plan!
John Herrera, CPA, MPA
President / CEO & Municipal Finance Officer
MuniTemps – Municipal Staffing Solutions