Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of the municipal staff and elected officials. That’s a quick way of saying that the budget process for 2017 has begun, and residents’ input is welcome and important in determining how tax dollars will be allocated.
Mt Lebanon’s budget is zero-based, so over the summer department heads build their budgets from the ground up, starting with the current level of service, adding any service levels that were funded for the first time last year and then finally adding requests for additional services they feel are needed to maintain or improve quality of life in Mt. Lebanon. They evaluate each service level in terms of cost and value and adjust as appropriate, perhaps reducing or expanding the cost of a current expenditure that has changed because of the economy or eliminating a service that no longer seems necessary. Requests for new service levels are carefully researched and documented.
The staff also factors in salary and benefits and submits their departmental budgets to the finance department, which reviews the proposals with the department heads, compiles the data and submits it to the manager. The manager then prioritizes the several hundred line items included in the budget and indicates how many of those items the anticipated revenue for 2017 from all sources will (and will not) fund. He then submits his recommended budget to the commission on November 1, at which time it also is made available to the public.
The staff, manager and finance department meet with the commission to answer questions about service levels. The commission makes additions or deletions as it sees fit, with the goal of a balanced budget with a reserve fund that exceeds the GFOA recommendation of 10 percent. Two public hearings are advertised and held, and the budget is typically adopted at the first commission meeting in December.
So, if you would like to see additional funding for a new or favorite service or less funds allocated to a particular service, now is the time to talk to the responsible department head, the manager or your commissioner. You can find contact information for the staff and commission on the homepage at www.mtlebanon.org.