County considering earlier start to next year’s budget process

Published 9:49 am Monday, October 10, 2016


While the 2016-17 budget process is just a few months behind them, Carter County officials are already looking ahead to the process for next year by planning for an earlier start.
“We are starting a little bit earlier this year, about a month earlier,” Carter County Director of Finance Christa Byrd told members of the Financial Management Committee during a meeting this past week when she presented the proposed budget calendar.
The budget process for the 2017-18 fiscal year is slated to begin on Jan. 6 when the County Finance Department will send a letter to outside agencies who request county funding asking that they submit their requests within two weeks from that date.
On Jan. 13, the Finance Department will send a letter to the various county departments asking for them to submit their budget requests within two weeks from that date.
During the month of February Byrd and her staff would compile requests and prepare a draft budget proposal according to the new timeline. After the budget draft is prepared, Byrd and her staff will review it with elected officials and department heads.
Hearings on the proposed budget would begin in April according to the new calendar. During initial hearings, outside agencies and county departments will be asked to attend the meeting and present their budget requests. According to Byrd, the presentations will not be limited to only funding requests that involve a change from prior years. The presentations will be a time when the department heads and office holders will be able to discuss budget concerns and daily operations with the Budget Committee.
“I have put in there for three additional meetings or workshops,” Byrd said. “We always schedule one additional open workshop and that is never enough.”
In recent years, Byrd said the committee has had to schedule additional meetings at the last minute due to requests for additional information from the county departments or outside agencies. Starting the process earlier and adding the additional meetings to the calendar will give the committee the chance to fully review and debate funding requests when drafting the county’s budget.
Meetings and workshops will be held several dates in April and May with a proposed date of May 22 for the committee to vote on a budget proposal. A public hearing on the budget would be set for June 12.
Byrd said the goal is to have a consolidated budget ready to present to the full Carter County Commission at its June meeting. This would give the commissioners one month to review the proposed budget before voting on it in July.
Members of the Financial Management Committee unanimously approved the calendar as presented by Byrd. The calendar must now be formalized by the Budget Committee and the full County Commission.
“There is a new state law on budget calendars,” Byrd said. “If we don’t approve our own then we are forced into using the state’s.”

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