Following the town budgeting process for the next fiscal year reminds me that many residents do not truly understand the sources of the town’s revenues and how they may be spent.
The general feeling is that the town’s funds are in one large purse and that the council can move them about from one account to another, as they see fit. Nothing could be farther from the actual means by which our money must be managed. There are two levels of corporation under which cities and towns in Arizona function. Charter cities like Phoenix and Scottsdale function as outlined by their charter, as established and voted upon by their citizens. This status can be established in any city or town which goes through the process.
The other status for communities, like ours, must operate only as allowed by the legislature. This includes the various sources of revenue such as shared state tax revenue, road maintenance monies and more, with all amounts determined by them. There are other fund sources available, such as building permits and impact fees that the town can put in place, but the legislature determines how they may be spent.
This is an oversimplification but is a fair representation of reality. Now is a good time to read up on and follow how our budget is created and managed. It is also important to follow changes being considered in the State Senate, which could severely impact our ability to function. Present workings there could significantly reduce the town’s share, putting increased pressure on our budget. It is your money, after all, don’t you want to know the whys along with the where?