By Melissa Kuehne.

One of an elected official’s most important responsibilities is oversight of agency finances. In an effort to assist local officials with this important duty, The Institute for Local Government (ILG) recently updated the resource “Understanding the Basics of County and City Revenues.” CSAC is one of ILG’s parent organizations.

Local governments provide essential services including public safety (police, fire and emergency services), parks and recreation, roads, flood protection, sewers, water, refuse disposal, recycling and other utilities. This resource aims to explain how local governments pay for such services and facilities through a variety of revenue streams.

Last updated in 2013, this resource discusses the services that local governments provide to their residents and breaks down the revenues that enable cities, counties and special districts to provide these services. Additionally, this resource provides an overview of these various revenue streams including:

  • Taxes;
  • Service charges, assessments and fees;
  • Revenues from other government agencies;
  • Rent for use of public property;
  • Fines, forfeitures and penalties;
  • Other revenues.

You can access the updated resource at this link.

Financial management and budgeting can be difficult to master. ILG offers a variety of other resources to help elected officials, staff and the public understand local financial planning and management. For example, Financial Management for Elected Officials: Questions to Ask provides questions elected official can ask to ensure that good practices are being followed. Budget Creation and Monitoring outlines the process for creating a budget, including establishing goals and priorities for the agency, allocating resources according to those goals and priorities and comparing actual expenses and revenues with those estimated in the current budget. Visit the ILG budget web pages to find additional financial management and budgeting resources.

Resources to Engage the Public in Budgeting and Finance Involving the community can inform the budget process and help residents understand the difficult choices that budgeting entails. Public Engagement in Budgeting provides an overview of how to engage the public in the budget process. This tip sheet covers reasons to involve the public in budgeting, tips on asking the right questions, tools to consider and a strategy for sustaining public engagement.

Once an agency is familiar with the benefits of engaging the public in the budgeting process, the Budget Tool Box outlines a number of ways local officials can enhance community involvement. These include budget education and outreach, surveys, workshops, advisory committees, deliberative forums, participatory budgeting and working with existing neighborhood councils and committees.

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Originally posted at the California State Association of Counties.