By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

With the heavy lifting on next year’s spending plan about to get underway, Whitewater officials kicked off the process with a look further down the line that will result in eventual changes.

At the urging of City Manager Cameron Clapper, the Common Council on Sept. 7 backed a plan to switch to a two-year budgeting cycle, starting next year. The change, Clapper said, is permissible under state statute.

Clapper said the caveat for municipalities going this route is to sync their processes up with the cycle of the state’s biennium budget. The city, for instance, can adopt a two-year budget that begins Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2023. A two-year budget, however, could not begin Jan. 1, 2023.

“The city would have to wait until the 2024-25 biennium to consider this change again if forgone for 2022-23,” Clapper said.

The core reason for the change, Clapper said, is efficiency. He said he believes a two-year cycle will save time from the current annual process.

“Modifying the budget process would enable city staff to dedicate time currently spent on budget preparation to other less urgent, but important, tasks and activities,” Clapper said. “To date, the anticipated number of meetings eliminated by moving to a two-year cycle – both staff and committee levels – is 22.”

As with any budget, amendments can be made along the way, post-adoption. Clapper said this would hold true for the biennial cycle as well, even if changes are incorporated in year two.

“The ability to amend the budget or to decrease appropriation amounts within the budget can be done by the Common Council at any time, just as is done currently,” Clapper said. “This would help mitigate any challenges with forecasting revenues and expenditures for year two.”

The two-year budget process will be consummated when the council adopts a municipal ordinance.

 
 

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