Henrico County’s budget process involves reviews of current County finances, local and regional economic conditions, major program changes, and wage and price levels. The review of current County finances covers such specifics as building permits, tax assessments, business license records, sales taxes as affected by retail sales, and mandatory increases in County government contributions to social security for its employees. The questions that are asked in this review are aimed at acquiring relevant financial information that will set the broad limits of budgetary possibilities. From a policy viewpoint, the basic question is whether current finances support the necessary budgetary outlays.
Each year all County departments receive the County Manager’s “Call for Estimates” (i.e., budget call), which contains the budget policy, special budget instructions, various revisions to the budget manual, a budget calendar, and the target allocation. The Call for Estimates is accompanied by information on using the County’s Automated Budget System, which enables the departments to prepare their budget requests on their departmental personal computers and submit them to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) electronically. The budget request consists of expenditure estimates in detail by line item, and in summary, together with supporting narrative information.
The Budget Director and the OMB staff prepare the revenue estimates, and work closely with the County Manager and department administrators in reviewing expenditure estimates both in program and financial terms. After the expenditure estimates are analyzed, recommendations for approval or denial are made and presented to the Budget Review Committee, which consists of several key County officials. Representatives from the departments are present at the time of these reviews and have the opportunity to make presentations and answer questions relative to their budget requests. Further review of expenditure estimates is conducted by the County Manager and County Board of Supervisors during the budget cycle.
The budget document that is presented to the County Board of Supervisors represents the culmination of long periods of intensive research and analysis by executive staff in the County. The purpose of the document is to present to the legislative body and the public a comprehensive picture of approved operations for the budget year, expressed in both verbal and statistical terms.
The Code of Virginia requires that the County advertise a synopsis of the budget in the newspaper and that one or more public hearings be held before the Board adopts the budget and sets the tax rates. Also the Code requires that the County Manager submit a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors. In addition, the School Board must provide its budget by April 1st. The Code of Virginia requires that the Board of Supervisors approve the School Budget no later than May 1 and the General Government Budget by June 30.
The County Manager is authorized to transfer budgeted amounts between departments within any fund; however, any revisions that alter the total budgeted amounts and/or appropriations of any fund require an amendment to the budget. The Code of Virginia requires that the Board of Supervisors approve any amendment. If the total amendment requested is greater than 1 percent of the total appropriated amount, the request also must be advertised in the newspaper and a public hearing must be held before the Board can act.