Baltimore’s fiscal year covers the period from July 1 – June 30, but the budget-making process for the ensuing year begins during the current fiscal year. In the fall, agency heads are provided with budget instructions and guidance for developing budget proposals for each of the agency’s services, including a proposed funding level, performance targets, and an explanation of how their performance measures relate to the Smart Goals that inform the priority outcomes. Budget proposal coaching sessions are also held in order for each service to submit a strong proposal under an outcome budgeting framework.
Review of Operating Budget Requests
Once budget proposals are received, Results Teams for each of the six priority outcomes carefully review them. During this time, the Results Teams may request more information from an agency. After careful deliberation, the Results Teams present their funding recommendations to the Mayor and Senior Staff. The Department of Finance then presents its funding recommendations to the Board of Estimates.
Hearings and Citizen Input
After the Department of Finance submits its funding recommendations to the Board of Estimates, the Board conducts formal hearings with the heads of City agencies in regard to budget proposals. The Board of Estimates prepares a proposed Ordinance of Estimates to be submitted to the City Council after voting on the proposed budget. A message from the Mayor, as a member of the Board of Estimates, explains the major emphasis and objectives of the City's budget for the next ensuing fiscal year. The Board also hosts a Taxpayers Night where citizens can come and give their input about the proposed funding levels.
The City Council then conducts public hearings on the Ordinance of Estimates and may reduce or eliminate budget items, but may not increase or add new items. The City Council votes to pass the ordinance either with reductions to appropriations or as submitted. It is then forwarded to the Mayor who may disapprove some items of appropriations while approving the rest, but he or she may not increase or add budget items. The City Council also hosts a second Taxpayers Night for citizens prior to mayoral review.
Establishing the Budget
After the City Council passes the budget, it is submitted to the Mayor for his or her signature. The Mayor may approve the budget or approve some parts of it while disapproving the rest. After the final budget is approved, it is monitored during the fiscal year by the Bureau of the Budget and Management Research.