Seeing The Budget: How Does the City Make a Budget? (Part 2)
The 2012-2013 Fiscal Year has just started for the City of Kansas City, Missouri and City Council approved the final budget last month. This post explains the budget process. For part 1, which visualizes the breakdown of the city budget, click here.
Making a big city budget isn’t a simple process; it takes months of labor by city departments, the City Manager, the Mayor, City Council, and even citizens who attend the public hearings to finalize the forthcoming year’s financial plan. Kansas City is fairly reliable about keeping the public posted on the various drafts of the budget as well as the Mayor’s recommendations and annual financial reports that come out at the end of each Fiscal Year. As is the case with Annual Financial Reports they make a public-friendly version called the Popular Annual Financial Report that strips away most of the government and finance jargon and condenses the fundamentals of the city’s financial state into about 20 pages (the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report hits about 230 pages).
The Popular Annual Financial Report provides a brief idea of how the city makes the budget each year, it all starts about four months before the City Council sees the budget. At this time city departments make their individual budgets, which must be submitted to the City Manager by November 15. Over the next two months the City Manager drafts a preliminary budget based on what the departments submit. The City Manager submits the preliminary budget to the Mayor on January 15 then the mayor makes a series of recommendations and the City Manager and Mayor draft a Submitted Budget by early February. This year the City Council first saw the Submitted Budget on February 9. For the rest of February departmental directors could attend hearings based on the Submitted Budget and starting in Mid-February through March the public can attend hearings about the submitted budget too.
The City Releases a PDF digital copy of the Submitted Budget on the City Website for citizens to peruse. Though it totals over 550 pages, it can easily be navigated since it is divided into departments. We’ve made visualization for you to show, proportionally, how the city divides money.
On March 1—the first City Council session for March--the City Council introduced the Budget Ordinance for consideration and from March 7-March 14 the Finance Committee considers the Budget Ordinance. Finally, after all the considerations from the Mayor, City Council, Departmental Directors, Citizens and committee members a Business Session on the Budget is held at City Council and the Budget is adopted on March 22, the fourth City Council session for March. The budget may be adopted with or without amendments and alterations to the original submitted budget.
In the next post, we’ll see where the money for the budget comes from.