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- Guide to the Budget Process
Guide to the Budget Process
Understand the Budget
When you receive your property tax bill or pay your personal property taxes each year, the city of Newport News Annual Budget process is probably not uppermost in your thoughts. Yet, the budget is the place to find out how your tax dollars are being spent.
A government's budget may seem complex or confusing at first glance and possibly put together so that only a bureaucrat could understand it. This is because government is called upon to do much more than before, and financial detail is necessary so those responsible for making budget decisions will have all the necessary information.
If you understand the budget process and how the budget is assembled, then the budget document will make more sense. More importantly, it will be possible for you to influence budget decisions.
The primary purpose of this guide is to explain the budget process and how citizens can have access to it. Even if your interest in city spending is limited to only a desire to know what happens in general to your local tax dollars, this guide will help.
Elected officials must stay in touch with community needs in order to provide appropriate and responsive government services. The budget process provides an important avenue for them to solicit citizen opinions as to where government should be spending its money.
This guide will help to show where in the budget process residents can communicate their opinions to the City Manager and City Council. Also included in this guide is some additional information that describes the city's relationship to the state and federal governments from a financial standpoint.
|July 1||Beginning of the Fiscal Year|
|October||Budget preparation instructions distributed to departments and agencies|
|November-January||Departments and agencies develop budget requests|
|February - March||Budget Hearings conducted by the City Manager with Department of Budget and Evaluation|
|Late March||City Manager submits proposed budget to City Council|
|April - May||City Council work sessions on the budget and budget public hearings|
|May 15||Date by which schools budget must be approved|
|June 15||Date by which the city Operating Budget must be approved|
|June 30||End of the Fiscal Year|
- What is a budget?
- Why do governments budget?
- What is the timeline for the budget process?
- Why does the budget begin in the middle of the calendar year?
- How are spending decisions made?
- What budget documents are required to be prepared?
- What are the legal responsibilities of the City Manager and City Council regarding budget setting?
- Once the budget is approved, can it be changed?
- Where do city revenues come from?
- Since the final budget can be only an estimate, what happens when the actual spending or revenues is higher or lower than the city expected?
- How is the operating budget organized?
- What is the Capital Improvements Plan?
- How does the city pay for Capital Improvement Plan projects?
- What does the Bond Authorization permit the city government to do?
- How can the city proceed with projects if it has not sold bonds to get the cash needed to pay for them?
- How much can be borrowed?
- How does the budget affect property taxes?
- How can I express my opinion to elected officials on budgetary issues?