The Budget Process: The Fiscal Year and Budget Calendar

Every city operates on a fiscal year, an official 12-month period which typically begins on January 1, July 1, October 1, or other period as established by the governing body. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs maintains a list of fiscal years for all active governments in the state. Most cities begin working on the upcoming fiscal year’s budget several months before the start of the fiscal year to allow sufficient time for data collection, detailed review of financial data, and compliance with laws for public hearings and adoption of the budget by resolution or ordinance.

A budget calendar is a tool used to establish a timeline for the completion of each step in the budget process leading up to the new fiscal year. The budget calendar includes deadlines for departments to submit information to the budget officer, dates for advertising and conducting public hearings, and a timeline for review and adoption of the budget. The table below shows an example of a Budget Calendar.
Sample City Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Calendar
Date Due By Action
March 2 Budget officer prepares budget forms for distribution to departments
March 2
Budget officer generates prior years actual and YTD estimates for revenues and expenditures for departments
March 16 Budget officer distributes forms, including personnel, salary, and benefits information, to department heads
March 23 Budget officer meets with each department head to discuss departmental needs and requests
April 1
Budget officer prepares preliminary revenue estimates
April 15 Departments return budget request forms to budget officer
May 15 Budget officer reviews and adjusts each department’s budget and prepares expenditure and revenue plans
May 15 Begin executive review and development of final budget content (budget officer, department heads, manager or CEO and finance committee)
May 22 Budget officer submits the proposed budget to the city council for review and makes it available to the public. Notice of availability of proposed budget and the public hearing date, time and location are placed as ad or article in the newspaper at least one week prior to the public hearing*
June 8 Conduct public hearing
June 15 End of council review period; budget officer makes any needed adjustments
June 22 Advertisement of the council meeting to adopt budget placed in the newspaper (may advertise with May 22 ad)
June 30 City council adopts the budget by resolution or ordinance**
July 1 Fiscal year begins

*Adjust the calendar to meet any requirements set forth in the city charter or city ordinances. For example, the budget must be submitted to city council for review not later than forty-five days prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.

**If the city adopts the millage rate at the same time, there are additional public hearings that may be needed per the Georgia Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This document imposes no additional requirements if the levying and recommending authorities rolled back the millage rate each year to offset any inflationary increases in the digests. However, if the millage rate is not rolled back, the levying authorities must notify the public that taxes are being increased and then issue a press release. The levying authorities must hold three public hearings allowing public input into the proposed increase in taxes. Two of the public hearings may coincide with other required hearings associated with the millage rate process, such as the public hearing required by O.C.G.A. § 36-81-5 when the budget is advertised, and the public hearing required by O.C.G.A. § 48-5-32 when the millage rate is finalized. One of the three public hearings must begin between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM in the evening. The levying authority must publish a notice in the paper and on their official website one week in advance of each of these three public hearings.