Another option is to use line item budgeting. The budget of Beaufort County is determined each year during the budget process meetings. Each of Beaufort County's departments should develop a budget for their department each year for presentation at these meetings. Their budgets must include current services and consider any options to reduce costs or even services. The departments should also be asked to make sure that service fees and charges are reasonable. Included in this should be a 10-year capital forecast to include new projects and building maintenance. New projects should be prioritized and there should be detailed explanation for the need (NOT WANT).
Budget makers can use a line-item budget to make specific decisions, such as changing funding levels of programs being phased out to provide money for new programs or making cuts to budgeted expenses because of changes in organizational policies. Line-item budgets offer advantages for managers seeking to control expenses at the operational level. For example, the human resources department might want to trim expenses on applicant drug testing. They can be given a reduced line item for testing for the next year to reinforce a new policy that only an applicant who has accepted a job offer and agreed to a start date can take a drug test at the employer's expense.
Line-item budgeting is easy to model after past budgets and other historical data. When writing a line-item budget, the budget maker can consider whether program sites, business activities and departments should receive the same level of funding as the previous year or an increase or decrease by line item. Reducing expenditures reduces the tax rate. By using a line item budget instead of the continuation budget we can cut costs to our citizens in the form of their yearly tax bill. If we keep on like we are doing now the tax bill can only go up.
Using a continuation budget process guarantees that the budget will go up. Department's needs change from year to year. Computers, phones, equipment and automobile needs are not the same each year. Services change, are added or discontinued. Just this past year we changed the way the water department is funded plus they got new water meters. The personnel level in this area was supposed to decrease because of these changes. Did it?
Make the changes that are necessary, don't fix the things that are not broken. The budget process is broken.................
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