The budget process helps navigate the development, implementation, and evaluation of a plan for the provision of services and capital assets. It is also intended to help decision-makers with informed choices about the provision of services and capital assets and to promote stakeholder participation in the process. Some of the key characteristics of the budget process are incorporating a long-term perspective; Establishing a link to broad organizational goals; focusing budget decisions on results and outcomes; Involving and promoting effective communication with stakeholders; and Providing incentives to government management and employees.
The Capital Improvements Program
The budget process begins with the proposed Capital Improvement Program, which outlines recommended capital projects over six years. Although the proposal spans six years, only the first year of CIP is funded, based on the Town Manager's Recommendation, the Town Council Vote, and finally recommendation to the Budget Committee for vote by the residents. Preparing for the CIP begins in May each year. Each town department presents requests for the next budget year to the CIP committee. Departmental requests and the Town Manager's recommendations are then sent to the Town Council for review. Once the Town Council reviews and adopts any recommended projects typically in October, it is sent to the Budget Committee for review. In February the projects are reviewed during the deliberative session and in March are voted on by the residents.
The Annual Operating Budget
Each summer, Town departments develop and submit budget requests to the Town Manager for the next budget year. These requests are based on each department's needs, according to the department heads. These budget requests include the first year of the CIP. From August to September, the Town Manager reviews budget requests with all Town Departments. The Town Manager submits the proposed budget to the Town Council. In October the Town Council discusses and deliberates the proposed budget with the Town Manager and department heads. After voting on an approved budget the Budget Committee will hear presentations from the Town Manager and department heads. After adopting a budget it is reviewed in February at the Deliberative Session and any changes are made and it is sent to the voters in March for adoption.