The Budget Evaluation of the City Council of Columbia

Running head: THE BUDGET EVALUATION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF COLUMBIA 1

THE BUDGET EVALUATION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF COLUMBIA 3

The Budget Evaluation of the City Council of Columbia

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The Budget Evaluation of the City Council of Columbia

Introduction

The financial transactions by the City Council of Columbia are handled by the Finance Department. The intention of municipal budgeting is to enable the management and the elected officials access appropriate financial information and recommendations on the important projects that require immediate attention. Further still, the budget ensures that the council’s operations are as much as transparent as possible. Most of the mandatory expenses are the recurring expenditure, debt services, capital projects, and annual strategic plans. Despite having the mandatory expenses, the municipal must prioritize public goods and services. Public goods are commodities provided to the public by the government without intentions of making a profit the most important public goods receive larger financial allocations. This essay focuses on prioritized public goods and services by the previous budgets of the City Council of Columbia. The analysis shall focus on the 2017/2018, 2016/2018, and 2015/2016 budget allocations.

Goals and Priorities of the Local Government Goods and Services

In the 2015/2016 budgetary allocations, several ongoing projects were under the office of the city manager. The office was to facilitate the revitalization of housing projects in that had been started in East Columbia. The Columbian clean water vision 2020 was also a priority in the budget (CSCOBPM, 2016). Infrastructure developments were also to be implemented in the downtown businesses, mainly in the Columbia Main Street. Some of the programs aimed at supporting the council’s employees; for instance, a wellness program was to be introduced to encourage healthy behavior among employees. The budgetary allocations for community development were approximately $1, 098, 373

In 2016/2017 approximately $63,644,467 was allocated to police and fire departments to boost security services in the city. The next major service allocation was the public works and recreation that received approximately $30,000,000 while the recurrent government expenses were approximately $18,594,951. The priority is on the safety of properties and security of the City of Columbia (CSCOBPM, 2016).

In 2017/2018 financial year, the fire, the police, and the council’s administration expenses were still the major expenses. However, the expenses allocated for the improvement of parks and recreation facilities had increased.

Challenges for the Provision of Goods and Services

Internal challenges are major hindrances to the provision of goods and services to the general public. They are sometimes caused by the council’s structures or the management. First, the bureaucratic structure of the council hinders quick decision making. There are several offices that need to be consulted before the final decision is made; thus, quick services urgently needed by the public and were not preplanned cannot be provided. In addition, the political interests of the councilors hinder proper services and goods delivery. The policies passed are in the interest of the party rather than those of the electorates. Finally, financial limitations also hinder service delivery. The council faces challenges in collecting revenues and taxes from public businesses within its jurisdiction.

External challenges include hierarchical intergovernmental relations. There are several governments in the City of Columbia which include the federal government, the state government, and the local government. Sometimes, council government faces frustration from the senior government; thus, hindering its operations. Furthermore, mistrust between the private sector and public sector is one of the major hindrances of service delivery in the local government level.

Budget Stabilization Measures

Budget stabilization measures are important for any budgetary allocations because they help in reducing expenditure and increasing income to fill the budget pitfalls. They intend to supplement budgets during a financial deficit. Some of the measures include the allocation of surplus more for use in the future date or just allocation of the budget stabilization reserve fund (BSF). However, the budget of the City Council of Columbia lacks proper stabilization measures.

Recommendations

Even though the budget focuses on basic needs such as security and fire protection, the council tends to focus more on recurrent expenditure. It also needs to establish development projects for the public. In addition, the budget lacks proper stabilization measures. The council needs to introduce measures of ensuring that budgetary surplus is available during emergencies.

References

Columbia South Carolina Office of Budget and Program Management (2016). “FY 2016-2017, Budget in Brief. Retrieved from https://columbiasc.gov/depts/budget-office/glance_2016-_10-2016_6.pdf