Our Town Budget Process is Underway: How to Stay Informed
Growing up in a big city, as I did, I still marvel at the accessibility of local government here in Woodbridge, and especially at the transparency and accessibility of the budget and the budget process. There are many opportunities to learn and engage at the level of detail that works for you.
A few preliminary facts to know:
- Our fiscal year starts on July 1st. We are currently in FY 2023 that ends on June 30th and the budget process for FY 2024 has begun.
- Our budget process is set forth in Article VI of the Town Charter: woodbridgect.org; select “Town Charter and Ordinances”
- Our current year budget is $53.8M, nearly 2/3 of which goes towards education.
A good way to learn about our Town Budget is to view the Budget Book for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2023. You can find it here: https://town-woodbridge-ct-budget-book.cleargov.com/6342/introduction/introduction-form-the-first-selectman. The Budget Book contains a wealth of information, including: Budget Overview, Funding Sources, Town Departments, Education, Capital Plan, and more.
Familiarity with the current year’s Budget Book is a good way to understand what will be proposed in the Preliminary Budget for our next fiscal year.
If you are interested in the details of the FY 2024 budget that will be proposed by the Board of Finance, you may want to mark your calendar now for the Preliminary Budget Hearing that will be held on Monday, April 24th at 6 PM. This is the ideal opportunity to learn and ask about budget details, have input, and make suggestions for changes. The process works best when residents participate at this hearing, so that the Board of Finance and Department Heads can answer your questions and the Board of Finance can incorporate changes as the process moves forward.
Of course, a great deal of work goes into preparing the budget long before the Preliminary Budget Hearing. We have a “bottoms up” process that starts with our neighbors and friends who serve on the Town’s Boards and Commissions and who monitor closely what the community needs, uses and values. Commissioners hear directly from interested and concerned residents. Perhaps you have contacted the Beecher or Amity Board of Education, the Recreation, Human Services or Library Commission, the Fire or Police Commission, or others.
The Commissioners work with department staff to prepare their department’s proposed budget and present it to the Boards of Selectmen and Finance. Those Boards then spend many hours hearing presentations, analyzing the department requests, and discussing how best to meet the residents’ needs within the necessary and appropriate budget restraints of our revenues and grand list. The process is laid out in the Town Charter and ensures that all stakeholders have a voice. If you would like to follow budget preparation or other work of Town Boards and Commissions, the schedule of meetings can be found at: https://www.woodbridgect.org/calendar.aspx The penultimate step in the budget process is the presentation by the Board of Finance of the Recommended Budget at the Annual Town Meeting on the third Monday in May. This year it will be on Monday, May 15th at 6 PM. By the time of this meeting, the budget will have been amended in accordance with changes adopted by the Board of Finance in response to suggestions at the Preliminary Budget Hearing and with any necessary last-minute adjustments. Finally, the Board of Finance sets the mil rate required to meet the expenditures in the budget.
Importantly, as residents of Woodbridge, we enjoy not only the transparency and accessibility of the budget and budget process, we also have the assurance that our fiscal health is in top condition due to our award-winning Finance Director, Tony Genovese, and his department. For the past several years, the Town of Woodbridge has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting as well as the Award for Distinguished Budget Presentation It is my privilege to serve on the Board of Finance and I can personally attest to the outstanding performance of our Finance Department.
It is often said that budgets reflect values. Our Woodbridge Town budget reflects the high value we place on education; our Woodbridge Town budget process reflects our commitment to transparency and accessibility. As Woodbridge Democrats, we believe these are essential elements of a well-functioning democracy and we applaud these strengths of our Town.
If you are interested in learning more about the Woodbridge Democratic Town Committee, please get in touch with us by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: http://www.woodbridgedems.org
<span class="fineprint">This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.</span>