The budget for fiscal year 2012/2013 is completed. It has not been an easy process as we struggled with shortfalls and made reductions in staffing. Our budget is balanced but only for this year. Future years will be even more difficult unless we begin to plan for those budgets now.
Advanced planning will provide stability in finances. This is done by looking at historical trends in revenues and expenditures. In examining the last five years we should be able to better predict the next five years. We can then plan for changes in operations and budget for capital expenses.
Stability in finances allows the city to continue to move forward. No matter the economic conditions the City must continue to provide essential services, continue to replace obsolete equipment, and continue repair or replace infrastructure. Planning balances operations with capital expenses so that even when things get tough the City is able to meet the needs of its citizens while not falling behind in getting the things necessary to keep the organization running effectively.
We will begin our planning in the next few months. This will involve several steps. First will be a goal making exercise with staff and the Council. The product of the session will be a common vision for what the Council and staff should focus on for at least the next year. These goals could include projects, financial targets, or service deliver improvements.
The second step is the completion of a capital improvement plan (CIP). Contained in a CIP is the capital equipment and projects for the next five years, but also included are financial projections for those same five years. The CIP looks at projected revenues, operating expenditures, and capital expenses in order to estimate when capital expenditures can be made while insuring that operational goals are met as well.
A final component will be development of long range financial policies. There will be down turns in the economy again and East Moline needs to be better prepared to handle these downturns. The policies developed will hopefully place the City in better financial shape to withstand extended and severe downturns with minimal cuts in personnel and services.
It is expected that the City will be assisted by Northern Illinois University Division of Public Administration and Public Policy in this process. NIU faculty has assisted many other communities in establishing goals and developing financial policies.
By initiating these planning exercises it is hoped that East Moline will be better prepared for the future, will be able to move forward, and will be able to improve service delivery to its citizens.