PR Question #4
Question 4: Is the current budget process efficient and are there ways to make it more so? Can you recommend any cost-saving measures? (150 words max.)
While serving as the interim county treasurer, I actively participated in the budgeting process. Each department head (both elected and unelected) submits their desired budget to the Auditor's Office every year. The auditor's office compiles these individual budgets into a master budget along with showing the anticipated revenues for the coming year. The members of the budget committee then review this budget. Department heads are then invited and a thorough vetting occurs where cuts and additions are made. The process involves many steps but in my opinion, it invites "buy-in" from all affected parties.
With regards to cost-saving measures, I think it would be premature for me to recommend some now until I have had a chance to participate in the process and query the department heads regarding their needs. During that process I will indeed recommend cost-saving measures.
Apparently the County Council is moving the budgeting process from the Auditor's office to the Administration office which, in my opinion, is not a cost saving measure. Therefore this question is not directly relevant to the Auditor's office beginning 2015. That said, the budgeting process apparently spans some four to five months. This extended time frame tends to complicate the process as entities offer up one budget but months later, when the budget is near finalization, too often they will present additional spending needs. This causes havoc with the previously agreed upon numbers. Either a firm cutoff date should be implemented, the process shortened, or departments encouraged to do a better job of planning. Possibly closer adherence to the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting (NACSLB) framework would be helpful and cost effective. Gary Shumway for Summit County Auditor, because it's YOUR money.