The budgeting process has begun for the 2023-2024 City of York budget year. As a councilmember, our main role during the budget process is to formally adopt a budget for the following budget year. At the end of the process, the mayor will present a proposed budget to the council, but it is up to the council to vote and approve the final budget, including any differences that may arise from what the mayor proposes.
The first part of this process has begun. The department heads have been meeting with the mayor, and our city administrator, going over the initial proposals on what they feel like their respective department needs to operate. This includes all aspects of their department, from staffing needs, operating costs, capital ideas, etc. Early on, some of these are more "big dream" ideas that are used more for long term direction/planning. The department heads then each take a turn presenting an overview on their department to the city council, talking about what their plan/big needs will be for the upcoming year and what they want the focus of their department to be.
As an example, the fire station was "big dream" idea for a number of years. During historical budget conversations, it was something that was made known to the council that would be a need at some point, to keep them abreast on long term needs for the city. As that need became more of a necessity, money was actually budgeted as part of the process. Going forward, as plans continue to develop, more money will need to be budgeted to accomplish that construction project.
For a city to spend money on something, it must be approved during the budgeting process. Because of this, there are often things that are requested by department heads to be approved but they intended to find grants to help cover the costs. That way, if they are approved for a grant, the project has been budgeted and approved by the council, and can move forward. Even things like repairs from the hail storm had to be budgeted, even though the revenue to offset that budget would come from our insurance proceeds. It all has to be approved, documented, and tracked.
During this time, department heads should be looking back at what they've been spending for operating costs, and determining ways to improve efficiency, save money, and provide a top quality service to the citizens of York. They have access to historical spending patterns, and can analyze where they can save money, what's been over budgeted for in the past, and what may need an increase during the budgeting process. They work with our city administrator to go over these expenses and income projections, and will present a working document to the council at some point in the future.
As for now, that's as far as I've been able to participate as a councilmember. We are in the process of hearing from the department heads during budget meetings, and will continue to do so this month. As numbers come in, the revenue side of the conversation will start to take place. Stay tuned for more...