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Five questions to ask before developing your budget

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For the budgeting process to run smoothly, everyone in your organization should have the same goals and expectations. In ICMA University’s Budgeting Guide Webinar Series, priority based budgeting experts Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian reveal some insightful tips to help local government understand and navigate this complicated process. Here are five questions to ask before you develop your budget.      

  1. How much do we have? Sounds logical enough, right? Well, in most cases, the question actually posed is “How much do we need?” A change of one word can dramatically alter the way you enter into budget discussions and shape the outcome of the whole process.
    [Watch the video below to listen to Jon Johnson speak about the topic in last year's presentation] 
  2. Where are we starting from? Should you begin with this year’s budget, last year’s actuals, or this year’s estimates?
  3. What are our legal or statutory requirements? Think about the required deadlines and regulations that may be in place from your state, city or council. Oftentimes, organizations race towards deadlines on a calendar. Another way of working would be to build your calendar backward from those dates to allow your teams enough time in their already busy schedules to think strategically when it comes to crafting the budget.
  4. Does everyone understand what is expected? Make sure that your department heads, elected officials, and everyone working on the budget understand their roles, the rules, the deadlines, and the fiscal reality of the situation. Are you engaging elected officials early on in the process or at the end?
  5. Is the process collaborative? Are you striking a balance between the people who want to conserve the resources and those who are advocating for funding for programs? Are you doing anything to avoid “turf wars” within your organization?

Based on the 3rd edition of A Budgeting Guide for Local Government, the Budgeting Guide Webinar Series will begin May 4, 2017. It’s designed for local government managers, assistant managers, department heads, and anyone who has a role in the budgeting process. For more information, visit here

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