This year, I took on the monumental task of serving as Chairperson of the Administration and Finance Committee for the City Council. Going through the budget, line by line, is not an easy task--but it is the greatest responsibility of the council. Working with the Finance team, the goal is to hear from the various city departments and divisions on the administration's introduced budget during the council's budget deliberations, to consider the recommendations of Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC), and to pass a final budget for the calendar year.
The administration handed us a very responsible budget, in my opinion, and the hearings went smoothly with those who attended. Every line item asked about was explained in detail by the department and/or division head, with follow up at later meetings. I am happy to say that we were able to hold all the public hearings, get feedback from the CBAC, hold an additional public hearing on budget amendments, and successfully adopt the budget earlier than any other time within memory.
One recommendation that the CBAC made that should definitely be included is that of requiring council members to attend budget hearings. When the meeting schedule was adopted several months ago, all councilors were asked to approve the proposed dates--all did so. Unfortunately, some council members only attended one of the four meetings. Since passing the budget is the most important responsibility of the council, I think that attendance should be given priority. That said, we got it done.