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Discover new arenas that shape the “warp and woof” of budgets and the policies and processes managers use to craft spending decisions.
Navigating the increasingly complex crosscurrents of local government finance has become an essential skill for today’s public administrator. The convergence of rising expectations from citizens and council members, anemic growth in revenue sources, and unfunded pensions now coming due has complicated the local manager’s task of preparing a budget that balances revenues with expenditures. More fundamentally, today’s managers must deliver services at a time when public confidence in government and its ability to perform have reached unparalleled lows.
This book examines the issues that a local manager confronts in developing a budget— both the choice of public services and projects to provide, and the choice of revenue sources used to pay for them. When formulating a budget, the manager must balance what is economically best, politically expedient, and administratively possible. Because the manager must also respond to citizens’ perceptions of an issue, whatever their accuracy, this book also examines budgets in those terms. In a more general sense, effective leadership requires that the public administrator shape as well as follow public opinion. The recommendations made throughout this book are designed to enhance citizens’ confidence in the responsiveness and competence of local government leaders.
Here's a snapshot of what you can expect in A Budgeting Guide for Local Government, Fourth Edition:
- An expansion on themes introduced in previous editions. As the public sector’s equivalent of a broker, the budget analyst brings together producers and consumers of local services, thereby transforming the budget process into a commodity exchange for those services. Although local governments have adopted more entrepreneurial methods of management, Bland and Overton provide the reasons why budgeting processes in the private sector cannot (and should not) be replicated in the public arena.
- A call on local managers to embrace truth-in-budgeting—creating an organizational culture that ensures the budget office is a dependable source of credible analyses. Good budgeting effectively links inputs (capital and labor) with outcomes. As the authors note, divining the linkage between inputs and their impact on the community is the key budget problem that managers must wrestle with.
- Practical guidance on how managers can effectively communicate budget information with their stakeholders and elevate the legitimacy of local government. Fiscal crises precipitated by natural or human actions impact budgets differently depending on their severity and duration.
- Specific strategies for responding to and mitigating the range of crises that can potentially strike a local government. The greatest challenge for balancing local budgets remains finding sufficient revenues to fund the services communities expect. Bland and Overton skillfully navigate the complex terrain of revenue policy and administration.
- Assessment of the impact of property tax exemptions on local budgets and the strategies used to compensate for the lost revenue. The authors provide an updated assessment of the general and excise sales taxes and the limited applicability of a local income tax. One of the bright spots for local revenues has been the steady shift toward charges on users of services.
- An introduction to a typology of strategies for structuring prices that give managers a clear understanding of the tradeoffs that must be made when designing a price structure.
About the Authors
Robert L. (Bob) Bland is professor of public administration at the University of North Texas, where he has been on the faculty since 1982 and teaches graduate courses in public finance, governmental accounting, and budgeting. He is the author of A Revenue Guide for Local Government (2nd ed., 2005) and A Budgeting Guide for Local Government (3rd ed., 2013), both published by ICMA, as well as of several articles on the municipal bond market, property taxation, and municipal budgeting. In 2007 he was the first recipient of the Terrell Blodgett Academician Award presented by the Texas City Management Association; he also received ICMA’s Stephen B. Sweeney Academic Award in October 2007. In 2012, Professor Bland was elected as a fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration. He received his BS from Pepperdine University, his MPA and MBA from the University of Tennessee, and his PhD from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael R. Overton is an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Idaho. His research explores the intersection of local government management and fiscal policy, specifically focusing on local government competition, economic development, and transportation financing issues. His research into these areas has been funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, SMART Transit, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments. In 2015, he received the University of North Texas’s Toulouse Dissertation Award in Social Science. In 2016 he was selected for the Emerging Scholars Award by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and in 2017 he was selected as a Founders Fellow by the American Society of Public Administration.