Part four on GovSense for Budgeting: Make every dollar count for your community’s essential and improvement services.
The importance of disciplined budgeting at the local government level cannot be over emphasized since the annual budget determines which projects and services will be funded to serve your communities and constituents. The budget essentially becomes the annual operating plan that each department uses to set priorities and execute approved projects. While there are a wide variety of approaches and methodologies used to produce budgets that fit the needs of each unique jurisdiction, we have identified five budgeting challenges for which utilizing technology will help all government organizations better allocate funds and manage expenditures with transparency and confidence.
We’ve established that a unified software system that enables inter-departmental collaboration is essential for developing and managing your budgeting process. Since governments must maintain balanced budgets, however, how can technology also help with the other side of that equation . . . projecting accurate revenues? The ability to efficiently and easily track revenue from all sources in one system lets jurisdictions more accurately predict future trends based on historical data. This, in turn, informs your decisions about how to best adjust tax rates and other charges to keep your budget balanced.
Make sure your jurisdiction-wide software solution can collect, allocate and report in real-time on revenue generated from any of the wide variety of income sources . . . from property taxes to water and trash collections to building inspections to code and law enforcement fines to recreational fees and more. This accurate accounting of revenue generation can be combined with other demographic data to more precisely estimate future budgeting needs. If, for example, you see an exponential population growth, you know that you’ll need more funding for schools; therefore, you can proactively ensure educational needs are financed through increased taxes, grants or other funding sources.
We often assume that accurately forecasting revenues is easy for local governments, and it can be for certain departments. However, as we warned earlier in this article, departments can not operate independently without running the risk of adversely affecting the jurisdiction as a whole. Having a system that provides a 360° view of your jurisdiction increases your ability to accurately project revenue and maintain a balanced budget.