Basic Budget Concepts

Budgeting, accounting, reporting and auditing are basic elements of a comprehensive system of financial management.  Each of these activities, although performed by separate organizational units of the County government, is nevertheless interrelated.

 Budgets, prepared by the County Executive with the assistance of the Office of Management and Budget (0MB), are approved by the County Council thereby instituting the fiscal plan for the delivery of public services, the acquisition of public facilities required for such purposes, and the administrative support required for management purposes.  In the decision-making process, consideration is given to alternatives and priorities represented by the budget programs and items in order to reach specific objectives related to health, individual and community assistance, public safety, education, economic development, environmental conditions, recreation and effective and efficient management.
Accounting and Reporting 
 The planning effort represented in the current expense and capital budgets culminates with the adoption of the budgets and is succeeded by implementation of the programs approved and administrative control of funds.  The budgetary control exercised by the Office of Management and Budget (0MB) in preparing the agency budgets continues as 0MB monitors the agencies budgets throughout the fiscal year.  The Office of Finance also becomes directly involved in the accounting process that tracks financial data on assets, liabilities, revenues, expenditures and encumbrances producing monthly reports which can be reviewed by the agencies and 0MB.  The Office of Finance along with 0MB also monitors the receipt of revenues identified in the budget to fund the various programs approved by the Council and the Executive.
 In addition to the fiscal monitoring performed by the Office of Finance and 0MB, the County Auditor, appointed by the County Council, is responsible for preparing and submitting to the Council and the Executive a complete financial audit within 6 months after the close of the preceding fiscal year.  The complete financial audit is contracted out to an independent certified public accounting firm.  The County Auditor heads the Office of Audits and Investigations, which is a division of the Legislative Branch of government.  In addition to the annual audit the Council or the Executive may order a special audit of any agency receiving or expending County funds.  All records and files pertaining to County funds are at all times open to the inspection of the County Auditor. Working closely with and under the supervision of the Council Administrator, also appointed by the Council, the Auditor and the staff of the Office of Audits and Investigations prepare budget staff reports and assist in the Council’s annual budget review.