Letter: City’s budget process has specific timeline

From: Jamie Brinegar

Columbus

As the city’s director of finance, operations and risk, I wanted to take a moment to provide information to the public regarding the city’s current budget process. As someone with many years of municipal government budgeting experience, I am fully aware of the need to keep the process as open and transparent as possible and would therefore like to provide as much information as possible to the public.

We began working on the budget internally back in June. Department heads were provided spreadsheets with information for their budgets for the past three years. We then provided city council members with an outline of the mayor’s priorities and surveyed the council on their desires for the city’s 2017 budget.

On July 7, department heads provided their requests for their 2017 budgets to the mayor, including any capital item needs. We then convened the city’s Council Capital Committee to present and prioritize the capital requests, which were presented to the city council at later budget hearings.

City council members were provided the mayor’s proposed 2017 budget request on Aug. 6 with public hearings held on Aug. 8, 9 and 10. These meetings were properly advertised, attended by several local media representatives and members of the public, and were streamed live on the city’s website and have since been archived for public viewing on the city’s website. A copy of the proposed budget is also available on the city’s website.

The final 2017 budget request will be discussed and voted on twice, first on Oct. 4 with a final reading and vote on Oct. 18. State law requires that the budget be approved by Nov. 1.

New procedures through the state’s Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) have changed how revenues are estimated for local governmental units, which has created some challenges in planning our budget. However, with guidance from the DLGF we will be moving forward with Mayor Jim Lienhoop’s proposed 2017 budget request. Highlights include:

  • Only a 0.7 percent increase in the General Fund from 2016 to 2017
  • A 1.5 percent raise for employees
  • An additional three police officers on the street in 2017
  • Significant public safety capital projects

If you have any questions regarding this process, or anything else regarding the city’s budget, please feel free to contact me by email at jbrinegar@columbus.in.gov.