Budget development is an integral part of the planning process of any government entity. In the period immediately preceding July 20 each year, extensive work is performed in preparing and filing the Bath Township budget for the following year. Budgeting is the process of allocating resources to the prioritized needs of a government entity and then giving the entity legal authority to spend the money. The budgeting process is a collaboration among township administration, department heads, the fiscal officer and the trustees in determining how best to allocate resources for the coming year. The board of trustees and fiscal officer are actively involved in the review process of budget development. Once finalized, the board adopting the budget confirms that financial data has been carefully reviewed and the budget accurately reflects that the township’s needs coincide with available resources.
The budget serves as an important tool for the control and evaluation of resources and measures financial performance on the basis of comparisons between budgeted and actual operations. As such, the budget is implicitly linked to financial accountability and relates directly to the financial reporting objectives of the township. The planning and control functions inherent to any organization or public entity highlight the significance of applying sound budgeting practices for a number of important reasons. The scope and diversity of operations in an organization make comprehensive financial planning essential for good decision-making.
The link between financial planning and budget preparation gives the budget document a unique role in governmental organizations. Budgets in the public arena are often considered the definitive policy document because an adopted budget represents a government’s financial plan to achieve its goals and objectives. When a unit of government legally adopts a financial plan, the budget has secured the approval of the majority of the governing board and reflects public choices about which services the local government will or will not provide, the prioritization of activities in which the local government will be involved, and the local government’s plan for managing its resources. See nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/h2r2/ch_3.asp.
Township authority relative to the budget process is contained in the Ohio Revised Code. In accordance with those statutes, townships have certain deadlines to meet in preparing and approving the budget. On or before June 30, a tentative budget must be considered and analyzed by the board of trustees. By July 5, the township’s fiscal officer must post two copies of the township budget for public inspection, and between July 5-18, the board of trustees must hold one public hearing on the budget. The trustees must then adopt the budget on or before July 15, and it must then be recorded with the Summit County Budget Commission before July 20.
Because employment costs make up the greatest portion of the township budget, percentage wage increases and other employment expenses for the budget year are developed on a worksheet and compared against potential revenues. There are five separate collective bargaining agreements, as well as the Bath Township Organizational Resolution covering non-bargaining employees that define wages and other terms of employment for 105 township employees. Mandated wage increases set forth in the collective bargaining agreements are factored into the budget document and related costs associated with those increases are projected for the contract periods. To assist with budget development, projections for expected increases in employment costs and other related expenses are provided to each of the department heads for guidance in overall development of the budget document. Expected revenue estimates, based on the Summit County Certificate of Tax Levy, are also analyzed.
As Bath Township continues to define its goals and objectives to best serve residents and businesses in 2023 and beyond, careful planning and preparation of the township budget is essential. Township officials take annual budget development seriously and recognize the importance of careful planning in the process itself. Bath Township local government seeks to prioritize what’s best for township residents and businesses and that philosophy is always at the forefront of planning. ∞