Budget Season

Starting out in January, I was thrown into budget season full force. Preliminary budgets were coming in left and right and I admit I had a hard time keeping up with all of the numbers. Everything was really busy. Each day the three full-time reporters had at least one budget story in the paper, or at least it seemed that way anyway. I had never really gotten that in-depth with budgets of any kind before that. It was interesting and daunting at the same time. You really have to pay attention. People will know when you don’t know what you are talking about. I’m talking about bosses and sources. During budget season everyone has their game face on and they mean business. I’m surprised no one has done a documentary on a small town’s budget process. (I’d probably be the only one who would want to see that)

February wasn’t too bad, though. Budgets were refined and discussed in each town and I slowly was able to pick up what everyone was talking about. It’s really interesting how long budget season really is. We could argue that it never truly ends because everything revolves around money and what fiscal year it was appropriated in. When you live in a town you expect a certain thing, but I never really thought about how much it cost and what the expenses actually were to my town.

March was hectic. Towns and finance boards were “scrambling” to get things smoothed over with each department. It was fun. I loved it. It’s a rush to get your hands on a town’s budget. You know each line item and how much each thing costs. I started to think in terms of the taxpayer. You figure out how much the mill rate will affect the taxes. You look to see how big of an increase/decrease the entire spending plan is for the town compared to years previous. It turned into a science. I couldn’t get enough of it.

April seemed to slow down a bit. Budgets were, for the most part, ready for the finishing touches. It’s amazing to see how a couple hundred thousand dollars can affect a town with a $30+ million budget. Everything is all-together. As I type this it probably seems a bit daunting, but once you learn the lingo… it’s easy. Mill rates are easy to calculate and your TI-83 calculator becomes your very best friend. I thought I was done with math, but I’ve done more math than I ever did in college.

May was, to put it in one word, incredible. Budget numbers were all over the place. I can’t really describe it because I know it won’t give it justice. It was something that I am really looking forward to next spring. I learned a lot and I know that I will continue to learn even more.

July is going by rather quick. I’m kinda excited about it. This is my first summer not having to go back to college in the fall. It’s still a weird feeling, but one that I am getting used to.

Jonathan

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4 Responses to Budget Season

  1. Pingback: First Run at Elections « Just Starting Out

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  3. Pingback: I Miss Budget Season « Just Starting Out

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