All elected officials and department heads were given budget worksheets and asked to return their final departmental budget requests by Thursday, March 29. This is in accordance with the Budget Preparation Calendar adopted by the County Commission on Feb. 21.
Establishing a final budget for the new fiscal year begins with an estimate of county revenues. This allows the Commission and me to develop a balanced budget within our resources. This includes a review of current County finances, local and regional economic conditions, and a re-examination of key local economic indicators. Other factors impacting the budget are building permits, property tax assessments, business license records, retail sales and others. The goal is to get as much relevant financial information as possible to allow us to set the limits of budget possibilities. From there we create a funding allocation for each county department.
Bradley County’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The first step in the process began with today’s meeting with elected officials and department heads. My office will then forward the various department budget request documents to the County Commission for review
Once the Finance Committee has reviewed the budget requests, a series of budget hearings will be scheduled between the Finance Committee and the county’s department heads. The hearings are scheduled May 8-21. The full Commission and general public are welcome to attend.
Once this process is complete, I will present a 2012-13 budget proposal to the full Commission on June 4. I can assure you that my budget proposal will not require a tax increase and will be based on existing and projected revenues. My budget proposal will be reviewed by the Finance Committee and any changes will be included in the preliminary proposal along with end-of-year amendments.
On June 18, the full Commission will vote to approve the budget amendments and review the preliminary budget, as well as listen to any appeals from department heads.
The completed proposed budget will then be published in the Cleveland Daily Banner on June 22 and the Commission will vote to adopt the budget on July 2.
It is a long process and requires input and cooperation from many people. A good working relationship between the county mayor and the County Commission is an important element of a successful budget process. Maintaining open lines of communication and strong working relationships are very important to the process of achieving a balanced budget.
Unfortunately, all department financial requests cannot be met and tough decisions have to be made due to revenue constraints. However, I am very encouraged about the future economic prospects for our community.
Bradley County is a great place to live. Since January 2010, we have been recognized by Forbes.com, MSNBC.com, Moody’s Economy.Com, Southern Business & Development Magazine and other business publications as leading the state in economic recovery. Statistics show that over the past 24 to 36 months, Bradley County has enjoyed its best economic development growth in the history of the county. Since 2010, approximately $3.8 billion in corporate investment has been poured into Bradley and Hamilton counties. This has resulted in about 2,400 new jobs in Bradley County alone. I will continue to work with the County Commission as we strive to make it even better.
If you have any questions about the county budget or the budget process, please contact Lynn Burns, county accountant at 728-7144.