The Budget Process: Who Does What

Budget development, adoption, and execution is not just an annual exercise - it is a year-round cycle that involves the interaction of many individuals. These individuals must work together to identify service needs, design strategies to meet these needs, and develop detailed revenue and expenditure plans to carry out these strategies.

Budget Officer

  • Responsible for the coordination of each step in the budget process including development, adoption, execution, and auditing.
  • Compiles budget requests from all departments into a single city-wide document and creates an initial balanced draft budget.
  • Ensures that the budget draft follows all financial, accounting, and legal standards.

Department Heads

  • Provides departmental level budget requests to the budget officer by a predetermined deadline.
  • Must estimate appropriate levels of funding for the department’s staffing needs and service provision.
  • In some cities, department heads must justify budget requests through demonstrated increases in departmental performance or outputs.

City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

  • Reviews the preliminary draft of the budget.
  • Determines adjustments that need to be made based on knowledge of the political goals of the governing body.
  • Responsible for presenting a balanced budget to the Mayor and/or City Council for their review, feedback, and approval.

Legislative Role: Mayor and Council

  • Provide direction on the budgeting process throughout the fiscal year as they establish priorities and goals for the city.
  • Review proposed budget and work with the budget officer and city manager to address any concerns or questions that arise from the preliminary budget.
  • Vote in a public meeting on the final budget to be adopted for the next fiscal year.

Public Input

  • In some cities, the public provides input throughout the budget process by participating in citizen budget committees or other citizen engagement programs.
  • Formal public participation in the budget process can range from in-person workshops to online surveys to identify the public’s preferences.
  • O.C.G.A. §36-81-5(f) requires a public hearing to be scheduled at least one week before the council meeting to adopt the budget resolution or ordinance.