Breakdown of budget process

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

As the budget season plunges forward, Bristol comptroller Diane Waldron provided an explanation into what goes into putting together a fiscal year budget for those new to the process.

Waldron explained a fiscal year differs from a calendar year, with the FY beginning on July 1 of a given year, and ending on June 30 of the following year. Currently, the city is in FY18, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June, 30, 2018.

Waldron explained her job title, “comptroller,” means that she oversees the finances of the city.

Comptroller is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as being “a public official who audits government accounts and sometimes certifies expenditures.” Waldron said that Bristol has a separate treasurer’s office that handles all of the banking and bank accounts.

“But for the most part,” said Waldron, “anything that is financial is run through my office.” That includes budgeting, working on the budget, paying bills, issuing debt, approving purchase orders, coordinating things for the Board of Finance meetings, and “anything related to finances, and to make sure that it’s done in accordance with laws and regulations,” explained Waldron.

Waldron’s office is currently working on the budget process for FY19, but she said she asked departments in late November, early December to start thinking about and putting together what they’ll need

These details include personnel requests, wages and salaries, and necessary supplies. For example, Waldron said, the Public Works Department would estimate how much it would cost to gather the needed supplies for snow removal. This could mean sand and salt for the roads and the necessary equipment, such as plough truck attachments.

This information is then put together to reflect two key components; expenditures and revenues. These numbers and where they come from will vary from department to department. Take the Building Department, for example, they charge a fee for building permits. In Waldron’s January update to the Joint Board, she reported that through the end of December 2017, building permits had collected 75 percent of the totalled 68 percent of revenues in the “Licenses, Fees and Permits” area.

Once the Comptroller Office has gathered all of the department requests, Waldron will meet with each department. She said this is a dry run for when the departments will present their budgets to the Board of Finance.

Once each department has presented to the Board, the BOF will recommend the proposed budget to the Joint Board. The Joint Board—which includes the members of the BOF and City Council— will meet on the third Monday in May, and will make a final decision on the Bristol’s FY19 budget.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.