What are the roles and the responsibilities of the budget committee?
The budget committee is charged with holding one or more meetings to:
1) Receive the budget message and the budget document;
2) Provide members of the public an opportunity to ask questions about and comment upon the budget document; and
3) Approve the budget document as submitted by the budget officer or as revised and prepared by the budget committee.
The budget committee does not change staffing levels, salary schedules or negotiate salary contracts. It is not the committee’s role to adjust policies or priorities set by the board or to add, delete, increase or decrease programs. However the school board budget committee does test the reasonableness of the budgeted line items to meet the priorities and goals of the district as set by the board, and takes input from the public on the level of services planned. Educational service district budget committees test the reasonableness of the budgeted line items to meet the services required by the local service plan of the educational service district.
The budget committee can make changes to any of the line items in the budget to meet the goals and programs outlined by the district with the revenues projected. The appropriation level (usually the function level such as 1000 for instruction, etc.) as approved by the committee and adopted by the board has binding authority on the administration. The administration is given the authority to transfer funds between line items below the appropriation level by policy DBK. We think of the budgeted amounts in the line items below the appropriation level as recommendations and guidelines to the administration. Transfers of funding at the function level or above must go to the board for approval by resolution.
Individual budget committee members have no special authority to request information or direct staff to provide reports. The budget committee as a whole may, by committee vote, direct the administration to provide additional reports, information, data or presentations to help the budget committee better understand the budget.
The budget committee plays a large role in providing communication with the community about the budget process and limitations within which the district works. Committee member develop a good understanding of the district’s fiscal constraints and the programs funded and are able to explain those things to their friends and neighbors throughout the community. The committee also provides an important additional conduit for input from the community of their priorities for the district.
For more information on this question, Ask Betsy’s Team or join us for our Budget Committee Basics webinar scheduled for March 28 or April 27 at 6:00 pm. For more information on the webinars click here.