Putting together a municipal budget each year is a challenging task. Even in the best of times, there are pressures and unexpected expenses that impact the budget as the year moves forward.
Since Arizona cities and towns are obligated to balance their budgets each year, we must anticipate fluctuations in revenues and control expenses. Doing so requires careful planning that begins long before spending is approved by Town Council each June.
In Marana, we commit to a structurally balanced budget. That means ongoing revenues, such as sales tax collections, cover ongoing expenses, the largest of which are employee-related costs. One-time revenues, such as licenses, fees and permits, are used for one-time expenses, including needed infrastructure improvements.
Having a structurally balanced budget helps us maintain a healthy reserve account, which keeps our bond rating high. It also helps the Town avoid having to make difficult mid-year budget cuts because of unexpected deficits.
Our tentative Fiscal Year 2015 general fund budget was approved by Town Council on May 20 and the final plan goes back June 17. We have expected revenues of $35.5 million, a nine percent increase over the present fiscal year, which ends June 30. We anticipate expenses of $32.7 million, also a nine percent rise from this year.
The FY’15 plan includes spending for infrastructure improvements to promote a business-supportive environment, funds for park improvements and technology commitments to better serve our residents and business owners. We’re also continuing to make investments in staff to ensure that we recruit and retain the best employees.
We are fortunate to have a prudent town council, excellent finance team and experienced group of department heads who all play a role in making sure our budget reflects the needs of the community. We use our strategic plan as a guiding document in all the decisions we make, especially during budget season.
The Town is committed to being a clean, safe and healthy community. We want to ensure that people who live, do business or visit here have a positive impression of Marana. We can only accomplish those goals through effective planning and by maximizing available resources.
We start planning for our budget each December to ensure that it best reflects community priorities. I’m proud to say that next fiscal year’s budget accomplishes those goals and puts Marana in an excellent position to take advantage of opportunities that will benefit our residents and business owners.
(Editor’s Note: Gilbert Davidson is the Marana town manager.)