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Budget Policy

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Balanced Budget
The Annual budget shall be balanced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia with current revenue equal to or greater than current expenses using the Town's Value and Mission statement and the following strategies in order of priority:
  • improve staff productivity;
  • increase or improve revenue collections;
  • use fund balance for short term needs;
  • reduce or eliminate programs or services;
  • raise existing user fees based on costs of services provided;
  • institute new user fees;
  • increase property tax rates.
The current fiscal year's budget was balanced by continued productivity improvements Town-wide and by Council and staff focusing on the development of a rational forward looking plan to accomplish its goals. 
Revenue Projections
All revenue projections or estimates shall be conservative in nature based on historical data and known trends and forecasts. All tax revenue estimates shall be based on reasonable Town adopted rates within the guidelines established by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any new sources of revenues and new tax rates shall be adopted and included only after proper public comment and adoption by Town Council.

Expenditure Projections
All expenditures shall be based on actual known costs, reliable historical data or estimates provided after careful research and investigation by staff and Council. All expenditures, projects and reserves budgeted shall be included only if they are necessary and essential in the individual department's efforts to meet the goals and objectives established by Town Council.

Accountability for Costs
Department heads are expected to achieve a favorable budget variance, i.e., that actual expenditures are either equal to or less than the approved funding levels. The reallocation of funds between line items within a department is subject to the approval of the Town Manager only after significant analysis and appropriate documentation. All other redirection of budgeted funds require council approval.

General & Administrative Charges
Costs incurred by the general fund in handling or administering any proprietary funds, i.e., the Water & Sewer Operating and Capital Funds, shall be allocated according to generally accepted accounting principles and recognized in the computation of net earnings using estimates or rates developed from historical data.

General Fund Reserves
The General Fund balance should be adequate to handle unexpected revenue shortfalls and able to accommodate a reasonable level of extraordinary, unbudgeted expenditures. In December 1998, Council adopted a formal policy regarding General Fund Reserves setting required reserves at 15% of budgeted expenditures.

Each year, available fund balance (carryover), the cumulative excess of revenues over expenditures, may be used as a source of funding to be applied to the next fiscal years budget. Growth in fund balance may not be used as a method of funding appropriations, and should be identified only when realized as a result of operations.

Investments made by the Town will be in accordance with the Investments for Public Funds Laws as set forth in Chapter 18 Section 2.1-328 of the Code of Virginia and further described in the Town of Warrenton Investment Policy , adopted January 10, 1995. Investment objectives stress safety, liquidity and return on all available funds. Each month a detailed investment report is provided to ensure Council is well informed of the Town's financial position. In addition, the Town's Finance Committee Chairman regularly reviews the Town's financial reports and offers comments concerning investment practices.

All budgeted appropriations are subject to the competitive procurement process as detailed in the Virginia Public Procurement Act and further defined in the Town of Warrenton Purchasing Policies and Procedures, adopted July 1, 1991 and subsequent amendments thereto. The competitive process ensures that all public funds are expended prudently, after careful research and determination that goods and services being procured are done so that the least possible cost for the quality necessary or required to meet established specifications.
Utility Rates
Careful study has been and continues to be done to ensure that utility rates will generate sufficient revenue to cover operating expenses, debt service payments and fund depreciation to allow for capital replacement under the existing program.