Budget Overview

The New City Charter, effective January 1, 2004, made substantial changes to the City’s budget process. It encourages this process to be ongoing year round, requiring both a financial plan, as well as quarterly reports. The budget process culminates each year with a call letter to request Departments’ requests for the following year’s budget:

  • Call Letter:
    “The Commissioner of Finance shall, on or before August 1 of each year, send a call letter out to all City departments and entities establishing budget parameters for the upcoming year. The call letter shall solicit the Mayor, Commissioners, and all City entities for their budget requests for the ensuing year, which shall be submitted on forms and in a format provided by the Commissioner of Finance. Every proposed budget or amendment thereto submitted by any agency, board, commission, or other entity of the City of Saratoga Springs shall be submitted in accordance with the provisions of this section of the Charter.” City Charter Section 4.4.2.

  • Requested Budgets:
    “Departmental budget requests shall be submitted to the Commissioner of Finance on or before September 15. Each budget request shall contain a detailed, itemized estimate of the amount of expenditures required by their respective departments for the ensuing y ear. The Commissioner of Finance shall collate and put in order all such requests. The Commissioner of Finance shall transmit copies of each department's requests to the Council, as they are received, for their information and comment. . . .

The Commissioner of Finance, as Budget Chairperson, shall forward copies of department request to the Council with whatever information and analysis the Chairperson considers relevant to understand each budget request. The Commissioner of Finance shall provide a detailed estimate of the amount of income from all sources, exclusive of taxes, and a detailed estimate of the amount of tax required to be levied to defray all expenses and liabilities of each City department or entities for the ensuing fiscal year.” City Charter Section 4.4.2.
The Commissioner of Finance is next required to propose and make public a ‘Comprehensive Budget,’ based upon the requests and all financial constraints of the City. It contains expenditures and the method of financing those expenditures and estimated revenues.

There are four budgets contained in the City Budget:
  • Operations Budget - proposed expenditures for current operations during the ensuing fiscal year,
  • Capital Budget - proposed capital projects recommended by the Capital Program Committee for the ensuing fiscal year,
  • Debt Service Budget - a complete accounting of the total debt for which the City has any obligation,
  • Subsidiary Budgets - all utilities or entities owned by the city (e.g. sewer, water, City Center, etc.)
Two public hearings are required
- the first must occur before November 1st, and the second must occur after all adjustments to the Comprehensive Budget have been made and agreed upon by the City Council.

The Council must adopt a balanced budget on or before November 30 each year.
In the event that the Council fails to adopt a budget by that date, the proposed Comprehensive Budget presented to the Council by the Commissioner of Finance shall become the budget for the ensuing fiscal year.

By the year’s end, the Commissioner of Finance amends the Financial Plan to reflect the adopted budget.
Subsequently, the Commissioner of Finance provides quarterly financial reports on the status of this Plan.