About the City Budget

What is a City Budget?

  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: 
    • an explanation of the services, activities, programs and projects to be provided by the City to the citizens; 
    • the resultant expenditure requirements; and 
    • 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: 
    • quality and quantity of activities and projects to be undertaken; and 
    •  financing of those activities and projects.
  3. The budget is a policy document which: 
    • establishes the authority to spend funds, and levy and collect property taxes; 
    • represents a commitment to provide a specific level of service within a given amount of resources; and 
    • establishes criteria (objectives, measures and dollar limits) for evaluating and controlling expenditures, revenue collections and performance. 
  4. Through the budget, policies are made, put into effect, and controlled.

  5. 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 15 of each year preceding the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st. The budget must be on a program - performance basis and show: 
    • expenditures for each program; 
    • income from sources other than property taxes; and 
    • 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.

Budget Amendment Process

Budget estimates may be amended and increased as the need arises to permit appropriation and expenditure of unexpended cash balances on hand and unanticipated revenues. Such amendment may be considered and adopted at any time during the fiscal year covered by the budget (but prior to May 31) by filing the amendments and upon publishing them and giving notice of the public hearing in the manner required in the State Code. Within ten days of the decision or order of the City Council, the proposed amendment of the budget is subject to protest, hearing on the protest, appeal to the state appeal board, and review by that body. 

A local budget must be amended by May 31 of the current fiscal year-to allow time for a protest hearing to be held and a decision to be rendered before June 30. Except as specifically provided elsewhere in the Iowa Administrative Code rules, all appropriation transfers between programs or funds are budget amendments and shall be prepared as provided in Iowa Code section 384.16. The program reference means any one of the following nine major areas of public service that the City Finance Committee requires cities in Iowa to use in defining its program structure: Public Safety, Public Works, Health & Social Services, Culture & Recreation, Community & Economic Development, General Government, Debt Service/Capital Improvement Projects, Business Type, and Non-Program.