The Biennial Budget Process
Kirkland follows a biennial budget process. State law requires that the first year of a biennial budget be an odd numbered year. Accordingly, the preparation of the biennial budget occurs during an even numbered year, beginning in June and continuing through the end of the year. The following are key steps that the City takes to prepare its budget. (See the next page for a diagram of this process.)
1. The City Council holds its mid-year budget review meeting in June and receives a status report on the current biennial budget and an updated six-year financial forecast, with an emphasis on the coming biennium. In addition, the City Manager requests input from the City Council about budget priorities and overall direction.
2. In July, the Finance & Administration (F&A) Director makes the official “budget call” to all department directors requesting expenditure and revenue estimates for the current year and the coming two years.
3. The F&A Department prepares all general purpose revenue estimates, which mostly consist of taxes, state shared revenues and entitlements, and intergovernmental service revenues, during the first half of August. In addition, the F&A Department receives and reviews all departmental revenue estimates during the same time period. All departmental expenditure estimates for the current year and “basic budget” requests for the coming biennium, which represent the estimated cost of maintaining the current service level, are received and reviewed by the F&A Department during the second half of August.
4. In late August, the F&A Director, City Manager and Deputy City Manager meet with each department to review their basic budget requests.
5. In early September, departments submit additional funding requests (called “service packages”) for new positions, equipment, and projects which are over and above their basic budgets. The F&A Department reviews all service package requests by mid-September. In years when funding is limited, departments may also be asked to submit proposed expenditure reductions.
6. In mid-September, the City Manager meets with each department to review their basic budget and service package requests. In addition, the City holds a public hearing in mid-September to gather citizen input on proposed revenue sources for the coming biennium.
7. The City Manager finalizes the preliminary budget proposal, which includes recommended service packages and reductions (if any), by the end of September. In early October, the City Manager and F&A Director brief the Council Finance Committee on the preliminary budget proposal.
8. In October, the F&A Department prepares and prints the preliminary budget document for the coming biennium. By November 1st, the preliminary budget document is filed with the City Clerk, distributed to the City Council and the departments, and made available to the public.
9. The City Council meets in November for a series of budget study sessions to review the City Manager’s proposed budget and to determine if there are any changes they wish to make.
10. The City holds a public hearing in mid-November to gather citizen input on the preliminary budget as well as on any changes made by the City Council during their budget deliberations.
11. In December, the City Council adopts the final property tax levy for the coming year and the final budget for the coming biennium each by ordinance via a simple majority of the members present. The appropriation approved by the City Council is at the individual fund level.
12. The F&A Department publishes the final budget document during the first quarter of the following year, distributes the document to the City Council and the departments, and makes copies available to the public.
Budget Adjustment Process
There are two types of adjustments related to the adopted budget: 1) transfers between line items or between departments within the same fund; and 2) changes to an individual fund’s total appropriation. The former is handled administratively when needed with the approval of the F&A Director. The latter can take place at various times during the biennium and requires Council approval by ordinance.
The first opportunity to adjust a fund’s total appropriation generally occurs in March of the first year of the biennium. Typically, this is when funding for projects and other significant purchases that were not completed during the prior biennium is “carried over” to the new biennium. The second opportunity takes place during the mid-biennial budget review which culminates in December of the first year of the biennium. This adjustment primarily relates to the following: 1) outside agency and new service package funding requests for the second year of the biennium; 2) any unanticipated needs, events, or revenue sources. The final opportunity to adjust a fund’s total appropriation occurs at the end of the biennium in December. This is the last time that adjustments for unanticipated needs, events, and revenue sources can be recognized and approved. Also, this is when the General Fund’s total appropriation is adjusted, if necessary, to provide the budgetary authority to transfer excess net resources to other funds in order to replenish or build-up reserves and to fund one-time service packages in the coming biennium. In addition to the three adjustment processes described above, other adjustments may occur during the biennium as needed.
The process for changing a fund’s total appropriation is as follows:
1. Requests for budget adjustments are submitted in writing to the F&A Director.
2. If approved, requests are consolidated in an ordinance and presented to the City Council at a regular meeting at one of the three times noted above.
3. The City Council approves adjustments to a fund’s total appropriation for the biennium by a simple majority of the members present.
4. Approved adjustments are incorporated into the existing biennial budget resulting in a revised appropriation for the current biennium.