Budgeted Expectations!

As described by the reading chapter, the process of putting the budget together can be replete with all types of “tricks”, so to speak, regarding expenditures and revenues. The most common of these is intentionally overestimating revenue and underestimating expenditures so as to eliminate or reduce the apparent need for tax increases. This is usually accompanied by the “hope” of local officials that revenue will somehow magically appear to match the overly optimistic forecasts, and that projects can be shelved or scaled back during the year so as to bring expenses in line with the levels agreed to within the budget.

For your discussion this week, I want you to consider a project or program within your community that failed to meet budgeted expectations. This could be a capital project that went well over budget, a new program that failed to meet expectations for the money spent, a project initiated by a special form of revenue (such as a SPLOST project), etc. If you are unaware of any such projects, you may want to do a little research through your online newspaper articles, or select a project from another community (even one that is current). Once you have thought about a project, you should write your discussion post describing the project and address some or all of the following:

1. Was the budgeted level of expenditure reasonable for the program or project? Was the projected level of revenue to pay for the program/project reasonable, i.e. did it materialize as projected?

2. What has been the community response to the project? Has it been embraced despite going over budget, or has it been considered a boondoggle?

3. What efforts could the local government have undertaken to ensure the success of the program (if it has been a failure) or have the project meet budgeted expectations?

4. Was enough information provided to the public regarding the program, special revenue, project to allow for reasoned, informed input regarding the budgeting process?