This first meeting to address the 2013 municipal budget was called by Mayor Testruth and properly published through posting of an official notice on the city bulletin board at 6901 Derbyshire Rd. Remarkably, the meeting was not posted on the city’s website.
I can’t remember an organizational meeting like this one that has occurred in Southport over many, many years and believe it is the first of its kind. As presented, it was short but quite informational and set a good tone for future meetings of this nature. It was attended by the Mayor, Clerk-Treasurer (CT) Bossingham, councilors N Schmoll, J Cooney & L Tunget; Police Chief Ellison, RDC Member D Langreck; Public Works Member R Bettcher and Park Board Member C Thoman; only one member of the public (me).
The informational meeting was driven by CT Bossingham and offered in a professional, sincere and engaging manner. An IACT (Indiana Association of Cities and Towns) Power Point presentation (see Just Got Back: IACT Clerk-Treasurers School 30MAY12) was offered to all at the table. Diane appeared to be quite knowledgeable during this superficial review and explained that she was available for any questions. Agenda topics included budgeting theory, budget vocabulary, foundational knowledge, the budget process & calendar and best practices. She also announced a scheduled meeting in early July with Indiana’s Department of Local Government and Finance (DLGF) for one-on-one assistance.
Included in her presentation were definitions of initial appropriations, intra-fund and inter-fund transfers and additional appropriations. General descriptions of the Rainy Day Fund, General (GEN) Fund, Motor Vehicle and Highway (MVH) Fund, Local Roads & Street (LRF) Fund and the Park, Recreation and Events (PRE) Fund were offered.
Also included were descriptions and processes to accomplish of salary ordinances, grant appropriations, cumulative funds and levy appeals. Very brief discussions included the Anniston Drive Improvement Project (ADIP) and the Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP).
Bossingham finally presented a skeletal view of the budget process as outlined by IACT and the Indiana League of Municipal Clerk-Treasurers (ILMCT). Many common myths and misperceptions of the municipal budget process were discussed.
Each participant was attentive, some genuinely curious and a few asked pertinent questions. Ellison asked about the propriety of fund transfers, Langreck inquired about the Rainy Day Fund, its potential uses and C Thoman wanted to learn more about past Park Fund expenses. Some in attendance were curiously quiet.
Testruth seemed to expect city departments and boards to build their own budgets, and that’s a good thing. Although such meetings occurred to me, I never quite got around to this good idea. I wish I had used this method and commend Testruth for his approach. It’s good to have this first meeting so early in the annual process.