Municipal budget confusion
To the Editor:
A transparent municipal budget process must identify all funds, which will be drawn upon for spending during any budget year. The process should be introduced with vision and goal considerations to identify any potential surprises. Often, municipal governments take short cuts and omit the planning step.
When private sector businesses prepare their respective annual budgets, they spend quality time reflecting on the spending and revenue during the previous year; then dig in to predict the amount of money they need to allocate to all spending categories. They ensure that the total does not exceed the prediction and assurance of revenue. The budget is planned, executed and measured for that year to ensure business success.
Municipalities offer services to their community using taxpayer funds. Their budget process must clearly identify all funds available and allocated for spending in each separate department and Town charity. The spending plan must be accompanied by a set of measurable goals for that budget year.
A taxpayer review of the spending plan for a municipal department should be clear: how many full time employees, how many part time employees, overtime spending, retirement costs, insurance costs, payroll tax expense, materials, capital plan, etc.
Repeating the budget process year after year, should promote continuous improvement. When funds are set aside and available for spending, they must be visible to the public to ensure that the spending plan amounts and planned activities are fully transparent. This is not the case in many towns.