Provide input on Dubuque’s dollars and sense

Every year, the Dubuque City Council is required by law to adopt an annual budget prepared by the City Manager and City staff. City staff is currently conducting public input sessions in the year-long budget cycle.

City departments have recently submitted budget requests and capital improvement project proposals to the City Manager. The community is now invited to review issues and priorities for the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Plan and Operating Budget. A public budget input session was held on Nov. 8  at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the Historic Federal Building (350 W 6th St). Input may also be submitted online.

“We are hoping to reach a variety of age groups this year with budget engagement, and the City is willing to present on the budget and gather input from students who are interested in the City budget,” said City Budget Director Jenny Larson, encouraging students to participate in the session.

Two distinct components comprise the majority of the City budget: the Operating Budget and the Capital Budget. The Operating Budget consists of personnel costs and facility operating costs. This is funded primarily through City revenue sources such as local taxes, licenses and franchise fees, service charges, and fines. The Capital Budget funds more visible community developments such as infrastructure and City facility improvements. The Capital Budget is based on the Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Plan, which is the City’s annually-reviewed document outlining investments in City facilities and infrastructure over the next five years. Capital Budget funding varies, but it often includes different forms of bonds and grant awards. Department administrators are responsible for presenting the City Manager with both CIP recommendations and budget requests.

Each year, the City Council, City Manager, Finance Department, and the managers and/or supervisors of City departments and divisions share responsibility for adopting a CIP and operating budget. As the summer months drew to a close, the City Manager kicked off the year-long process by working closely with department managers and other staff  members to review previous fiscal year accomplishments and discuss future initiatives. Additionally, the City Council conducted goal-setting sessions to define a mission and vision, and establish a policy agenda.

Based on these proceedings, department administration and other staff members conducted internal goal-setting and agenda prioritizing to develop the department’s budget request and capital improvement project information. Preparations included evaluating service levels, the previous fiscal year’s budget request, and actual revenue and expenditures. Department managers and division supervisors organize capital improvement project recommendations and the budget request for the upcoming fiscal year and submit for review to the City Manager.

Following the current public input period, the City Manager and Finance Department will review and balance CIP and Operating Budget requests to develop a final budget recommendation. The recommendation moves to the City Council in February, and the public will be invited to address the City Council in several budget public input sessions involving budget presentations from each department. A final public hearing will be held by the City Council and a final budget must be adopted and certified by March 15, according to state law.

To follow the budget process throughout the year, the City of Dubuque provides several online resources. The City’s “Open Budget” tool is aimed at providing information on current property taxes, City budget, utility rates and fees, and the City’s debt reduction plan. For more information on the City budget process or to explore the FY18 budget, revenues, and expenditures, visit the City of Dubuque website.

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