In the Town of Oro Valley, January marks the kick off of budget preparation process for the 2013/14 fiscal year that begins July 1, 2013. Launching the budget process this far in advance affords us the time to secure the involvement of all community members, providing opportunities to gather input from their unique perspectives.
Before I explain our process, I would like to point out the importance of the town’s budget. It’s not just a guideline for spending. Our budget actually serves four critical functions:
As a policy document, the budget indicates what services the town will provide during the next year and spells out the level of services and reasons for their provision.
As an operations guide, the budget indicates how departments and funds are organized to provide services to the community.
As a financial plan, it summarizes the cost to the taxpayers for current and approved service levels and how they will be funded.
As a communications device, the budget is designed to be user-friendly with summary information in text, charts, tables and graphs, and includes definitions of financial budget terms for additional clarity.
As a first step in the budget development process, the Town Manager’s budget development team is established, comprising key staff members from the finance department and town manager’s office. During the month of January, the budget team meets one-on-one with each member of the council to hear their budget priorities for the coming year. These priorities are based on feedback from their constituents.
Also in January, the town conducts an employee and community budget forum to help educate the public on the budget process and seek input from employees and residents. This year’s community forum will be held Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. in council chambers.
In the coming weeks, the budget team will also meet with Town of Oro Valley department directors to better understand the needs and priorities of staff.
While the town’s staff is responsible for developing and presenting a proposed budget to the Town Council on April 3, final adoption of the budget is ultimately the council’s authority. As such, careful consideration is given to the development of this document, ensuring that it is guided by the Town’s Strategic Plan and voter-approved General Plan.
Prior to the town council’s adoption of the tentative and final budgets, public hearings will be held at the May 1 and May 15 council meetings so that residents have additional opportunities to share feedback.
Oro Valley’s approach to budget development has been very successful. For the last four consecutive years we have received the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. This award reflects the commitment of the town to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.
Our success is a reflection not only of the tremendous efforts of Town Council and staff, but also of the thoughtful input we receive from community members. So I invite you to be part of the process this year by attending the Jan. 17 public meeting or one of the public hearings listed above.
Any resident who is unable to attend a meeting but would like to share input is encouraged to contact our Constituent Services Coordinator at 229-4711 or email@example.com.
(Editor’s Note: Greg Caton is the Oro Valley Town Manager.)