Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Operating Budget 101 (and getting ready for the Forum)

[NOTE: This posting paraphrases freely a similar posting from a couple of years ago.]

On MONDAY, JANUARY 13th the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the Civic Building, starting at 7pm. As part of that meeting, they will discuss how to prepare for the upcoming County Executive Budget Forum, scheduled for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29TH. Subsequently, they will draft a letter of advice (at their February meeting) to the County Executive for his consideration prior to him submitting his proposed budget to County Council on March 15th.

This conversation is intended 'newbies' as well as 'old-timers'. This will be the type of conversation that is best attended with someone else you know - you'll want to make sure you talk about it afterwards! So bring a friend, family member, or that young person that is intrigued by our civic process.

SPECIAL NOTE: County Executive Ike Leggett wanted me to share with you the PowerPoint presentation accompanying his series of five budget forums to get public feedback on what you want in the upcoming County operating budget. This is a great, simple way to get an overview of the content and process. You can find it HERE  


Budgeting for our personal, business, or public purposes sometimes can seem daunting. To some of us, life has never been the same since the dawn of spreadsheets – we live by them! They make our capacity to layout and understand budgets a near science – though we know budgeting remains an art… To other of us, even the thought of dealing with budgets makes us shiver… Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

In Montgomery County, budgeting is essentially a year round process with a clear beginning and end. “The 12-month period to account for revenues and expenditures in Montgomery County commences on July 1 of each year and ends on June 30 of the following year.” Simple enough, right? Well, lots of things happen in-between… For a graphic display of the process, go to page 12 and 13 of the document “Operating Budget Process”, found at:

After you glance at the chart, you may want to go back to page 1 and read the document carefully… It includes a wealth of useful information regarding how the process works; it has numbers galore; and it even explains some of the terminology that sometimes makes a glaze go over our eyes.

The approved FY14 budget can be found at:
The links (in Vol. 1: Operating Budget) to 'how to read the budget' and 'budget highlights' might be particularly helpful.

Viewing these documents can answer many of the questions anyone might have about our County’s budget process… But, there’s nothing like having the opportunity to talk through some of the intricacies and details to better understand the process and some of its nuances…And, begin generating questions and comments for the upcoming Forum.

(Remember that at the February SSCAB meeting the Board will deliberate the contents of the letter that will provide advice the County Executive prior to his submission of his proposed budget to County Council March 15.)

If you would like to join us in such a conversation, please come to the SSCAB meeting MONDAY, JANUARY 13th, 7PM. We’ll have with us a staff from the Office of Management and Budget to lead us on this conversation.

Note that the Budget Conversation is at the beginning of the monthly meeting of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, which begins promptly at 7pm. We hope you’ll stay for the rest of meeting as well.

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