What is a budget?

A budget is several things:

1. The budget is a fiscal plan setting out anticipated revenue and expenditures for accomplishing a variety of services over a given time frame. The fiscal plan includes: 
     a) an explanation of the services, activities, programs and projects to be provided by the City to the citizens; 
     b) the resultant expenditure requirements; and 
     c) the resources available for meeting the expenditure requirements.

2. The budget is a process concerned with the allocation of available resources among alternatives and competing departments, activities and programs. Cities rarely have enough money to be able to appropriate all the funds requested to all departments and activities and, as a result, there is considerable competition for whatever money is available. Budgeting, as a process, is concerned with developing an acceptable mix or balance between costs and
services and represents the decisions made with respect to: 
     a) quality and quantity of activities and projects to be undertaken; and 
     b) financing of those activities and projects.

3. The budget is a policy document which: 
     a) establishes the authority to spend funds, and levy and collect property taxes; 
     b) represents a commitment to provide a specific level of service within a given amount of resources; and 
     c) establishes criteria (objectives, measures and dollar limits) for evaluating and controlling expenditures, revenue collections and performance. 
    Through the budget, policies are made, put into effect, and controlled.

4. The budget is a legal requirement. State law requires the City Manager to prepare the annual budget and the City Council to adopt the annual budget and certify it to the County Auditor by March 15th of each year preceding the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st. The budget must be on a program - performance basis and show: 
     a) expenditures for each program; 
     b) income from sources other than property taxes; and 
     c) amount to be raised by the property taxation and the property tax rate expressed in dollars per thousand of assessed value.

The budget must also show comparisons between expenditures in each program and between levels of service.