Each year the County Executive Office(CEO) Analysts, under the direction of the Assistant CEO, work with all 18 County Department Heads to refine and revise the requested budget based on department plans and according to budget policies established by the elected Board of Supervisors. After several months of discussion and coordination the Recommended Budget is presented to the Board for adoption.
The Board of Supervisors hold two public hearings in June and adopts the final budget to provide the spending authority for the County into the new fiscal year. During these public hearings the public at large is invited to attend and give public comment about the budget. Prior to adoption, the Board also has the opportunity to include desired changes. Once it is official, it becomes the Adopted Budget.
The budget is presented to the public is two different, distinct versions for each fiscal year, the Recommended Budget and the Adopted Budget. Both are organized by functional area designated as Public Safety and Justice, Health and Human Services, Community Resources, and Infrastructure.
The Recommended Budget is the budget as presented by the CEO in the first public hearing. This provides each department's organization chart, narrative of its programs and mission, goals and objectives and summarized level of projected revenues and requested appropriations (spending authority).
The Adopted Budget provides detailed line items of each department in a format required by the State of California. Any changes made to the Recommended Budget book from the time of the first public hearing to the second are reflected in the Adopted Budget book and becomes the official working document for the next fiscal year.
The process doesn’t stop with adoption of the budget, however. The CEO works with departments throughout the year to help manage their financial plans and make any necessary budget amendments. After adoption of the annual budget, any increases to overall appropriations(spending authority), new capital assets or transfers, or new funding agreements, including grants, require Board approval in a public meeting. The CEO helps departments take these amendments to the Board of Supervisors.
There is another layer of oversight that helps administer the annual budget throughout the fiscal year. The Auditor-Controller is responsible for maintaining budgetary controls and fiscal management, as defined by policy set by the CEO and Board of Supervisors.
In order to be as accurate and fiscally prudent with available resources as possible, all county departments, together with CEO staff, undergo a mid-year review. Here we look at year-to-date expenses and estimate how close we will be to our total budgeted expenses for the year. This provides us with the information necessary to begin the process again and plan for next year’s budget.
As part of a check and balance process set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, the County procures an independent certified public accountant(CPA) to conduct an audit of the County's financial statements annually. This independent CPA also audits the internal controls of the County to determine the level of risk for fraud or material misstatements of financial data.
The Auditor-Controller is responsible for compiling a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which provides the independent auditor the financial statements in according with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), notes to the financial statements, budget to actual comparison schedules and other required information. Also included are the Management's Discussion and Analysis section and a statistical section highlighting 10 years of various data points.
The CAFR is presented to the Board of Supervisors for acceptance at a public meeting once the audit is complete.