The long term strategic planning process was developed to focus financial resources on achieving City Council's vision of being recognized as one of Florida's premier cities in which to live, work and play. Budgeting for an outcome requires a direct link between department spending and the Strategic Action Plan (SAP). The comprehensive annual approach focuses on planning, tracking and reporting these results.
In January, Department Heads receive an annual performance evaluation which includes a review of the previous fiscal year's budget results, the Citizen Survey results, the Annual Progress Report and a self-evaluation. The timing of this evaluation provides an opportunity to plan for the necessary changes needed for the upcoming fiscal year, prior to the start of the budget preparation period.
The Annual Progress Report, which includes the Citizen Survey results, is presented to City Council in February. In March, the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) is reviewed with City Council and action items are identified at this time. This is done just prior to the budget preparation period and allows City Council to take into consideration the progress that was made the previous year as well as the Citizen Survey results. This also allows staff the time to prepare an appropriate budget to meet City Council goals for the following year. This cohesive approach helps bridge the gap between the SAP and the annual budget process.
During the months of April through June a series of budget presentations are made to City Council to prepare the elected officials for the upcoming decision making process. These presentations include a refresher on fund accounting, property taxes, long term financial planning, an overview of the current year to date budget results and an update on the 10-year infrastructure projections. During this time the departmental budget preparation period also begins. Each department outlines the objectives and goals to be accomplished in the coming fiscal year and works together with the Finance Department to prepare a detailed estimate of operating needs and personnel required to provide these services. These requests are then reviewed with the City Manager to ensure that objectives outlined within the SAP have been considered in the budgetary needs for the department. After matching the expenditures with the projected revenues available, a balanced budget where revenues are equal to expenditures is finalized for presentation to City Council.
During the months of July and August, and over the course of several City Council workshop sessions, the proposed budget by department and by fund is presented to City Council. During the month of September, in accordance with the timing specified in State Law (F.S. 200.065), two public hearings are held to adopt the final budget.
Throughout the budget preparation period, all presentations to City Council are made available to the public on the City's website. A "Budget at a Glance" document and a budget glossary is also available to assist City Council and the public during the budget adoption process.
Once the budget is approved, departments begin meeting with the Finance Department and the City Manager on a quarterly basis to review the year to date results. Each quarter the Department Head provides a formal report to the City Manager that includes a discussion of the overall state of the department as well as year-to-date budget results. This discussion includes department spending and performance from the previous quarter. The report also provides the status of projects and highlights accomplishments. These meetings also provide an opportunity to discuss potential concerns about the remainder of the year. This allows management to make adjustments immediately to their daily operations to ensure City Council goals are met. The quarterly reports are available to both City Council and to the public each quarter on the City's website. This gives a bird's eye view year-round of the progress being made towards the goals established in the SAP.
During the months of November and December a year-end review is completed. This includes a final look at the budget results for the previous fiscal year as well as the performance measures. These results provide the foundation for the Annual Progress report which is presented to City Council in February. This final step brings the strategic planning process full circle once again.
The current budget document, as well as historical budget documents, can be viewed on the City's website. In 2015 the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Budget Presentation award was received for the 12th consecutive year. The ICMA Center for Performance Analytics recognized the City of Palm Coast for the second year in a row for its performance management efforts with a Certificate of Distinction. Palm Coast was one of 48 government entities nationwide, and one of six in Florida, to receive some level of recognition from the program in 2015.