Components of the Budget Document

Depending on your city’s size and the number of staff available, the budget document can range from very simple to very sophisticated. Not every city chooses to prepare a formal “budget document”. Some cities may simply compile departmental budget reports and attach a summary of city revenues and expenditures for all fund and revenue categories. Cities that prepare a more formal budget document use different formats, but generally include the following components:
  • Budget Message – Usually appears at the front of the budget document and is signed by the mayor or city manager. Summarizes the city’s priorities for the upcoming fiscal year and explains any major changes in revenues and/or expenditures. Click here for a Sample Budget Message (adapted from an Athens-Clarke County budget document).
  • Budget Summary – Goes into more detail than the budget message and further explains some of the issues, initiatives, or major changes mentioned in the budget message. Presents an overview of revenues and expenditures by fund, as well as personnel information for the city. Click here for an example of a Budget Summary (adapted from a Milton budget document).
  • Departmental Budget Information – Includes each department’s mission, performance goals, and information on personnel in the department. A summary of expenditures including the previous year, current year, and budgeted amount for the next fiscal year should be provided. A narrative section is also included to highlight operational or service delivery successes or issues with quantitative performance indicators. Click here for an example of a Departmental Budget Summary (adapted from a Milton budget document).
  • Optional Sections – Can include sections on capital budgeting, debt service, contributions to other agencies, a glossary of budget terms, or demographic information for the community.