What is a Town Budget?

A budget is several things:

  1. The budget is a fiscal plan setting out anticipated revenue and expenditures for accomplishing a variety of services over a given time frame. The fiscal plan includes:
    • an explanation of the services, activities, programs and projects to be provided by the Town to the citizens;
    • the resultant expenditure requirements; and
    • the resources available for meeting the expenditure requirements.

  2. The budget is a process concerned with the distribution of available resources among alternatives and competing departments, activities and programs. Towns rarely have enough money to be able to appropriate all the funds requested to all departments and activities and, as a result, there is considerable competition for whatever money is available.

    Budgeting, as a process, is concerned with developing an acceptable mix or balance between costs and services and represents the decisions made with respect to:
    • quality and quantity of activities and projects to be undertaken; and
    • financing of those activities and projects.

  3. The budget is a policy document which:
    • establishes the authority to spend funds, and levy and collect property taxes;
    • represents a commitment to provide a specific level of service within a given amount of resources; and
    • establishes criteria (objectives, measures and dollar limits) for evaluating and controlling expenditures, revenue collections and performance.

      Through the budget, policies are made, put into effect, and controlled.

  4. The budget is a legal requirement. State law requires the Town adopt by ordinance a balanced annual budget. Revenues must equal expenditures.