Senior Budget Analyst of Fort Collins, CO, Cody Forst chats with us about a typical municipal budget timeline and how crucial involvement from community members through online feedback and participatory budgeting aid in the process.
A budget is arguably one of the most important documents a government produces - it is a way for the government to communicate with their constituents about their priorities. Local budgets include information about relative expenditures in different areas, for example, law enforcement versus social services. They also provide detail about how a government is addressing a given area, for example hiring staff vs. purchasing equipment. Local budgets may be set on an annual or biannual basis. Many local governments follow a fiscal year that is offset from the calendar year by six months, meaning that an annual budget reflects spending from July 1 - June 30 of the following year. Budget development processes typically take 6-9 months, providing multiple opportunities for the public to provide feedback and shape spending decisions.