Citizen's Guide to the Budget
FISCAL YEAR 2022-2023
WHAT IS THE BUDGET?
Budgeting is the process by which the Sublette County Board of County Commissioners decides on how to use its financial resources to fund services and projects that benefit County residents. The process is complicated because, unlike private business, Sublette County has a broader range of responsibilites, it has to be accountable to its citizens, the State, and Federal governments. Also, unlike private business, the County does not have the flexibility to drop services becaue they are not profitable.
All counties are required by State law to adopt an annual budget. The budget is a statement of the County's financial policy and plans for the fiscal year ending June 30. The budget document presents in detail the financial plan of the County, including its various sources of revenue (resources) and the allocation of these resources to support the operation of the departments, agencies and services arres of the County.
WHAT ARE REVENUES?
The income received through taxes, licenses and permits, fines and penalties, grants and subventions from the state and federal governments, charges for services, and other miscellaneous sources is revenues. We also refer to these dollars as financial resources.
WHAT ARE EXPENDITURES?
Expenditures occur when the County buys goods and services, and pays its employees. Expenditures can be categorized into three types: operating expenditures, capital expenditures, and debt service expenditures. Operating expenditures are the day-to-day spending on salaries, supplies, utility services, and contracts for services. Capital expenditures are generally for the acquisition of significant assets, such as land and buildings, or the construction of buildings, roads, bridges and other improvements. Debt expenditures repay borrowed money and interest on that borrowed money. At the current time, Sublette County does not have any debt and does not have to budget for the repayment of debt or interest
WHAT ARE RESERVES?
Reserves are funds set aside from fund balance that are earmarked for future expenses (beyond the immediate fiscal year), such as reserve for future building construction, economic uncertainty, or landfill closure and cleanup activities. If funds are no longer needed, reserves can be reduced or canceled and made available for spending; however, such action can only be taken at the time of budget adoption or budget amendment.
WHAT IS A FUND?
The County is financially organized into many separate fiscal and accounting entities known as funds. Each fund is a distinct division for accounting and budgeting purposes. The fund accounting process allows the County to budget. It accounts for revenues restricted by law or policy to a specific use or purpose following generally accepted rules of governmental accounting and budgeting.
WHY USE FUNDS?
1. Fund accounting is required by the State. The State of Wyoming law governs how counties and cities in the State will account for their revenues and expenditures. All cities and counties are audited annually by an outside accounting/auditing firm to ensure they have followed the accounting rules.
2. Whenever a city or county receives dollars from the State or Federal goverment in the form of grant, the city or county must ensure these accounting rules are followed.
3. The County, like all other local goverments nationwide, uses fund accounting because this system of accounting is the standard prescribed by national organization that are associations of accountant and finance professionals from cities and counties all over the country. The principles used to account for businesses, called generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), are etablished by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Similarly, principles used to account for local government finances are established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)
THE OPERATING BUDGET - SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC
The expenditure budget for all County programs and services is itemized into categories called line items or accounts. These line items are used so that we will know specifically what kind of expenditures are made. The various line items or expenditure accounts are grouped into four major categories. These are:
Employee Salaries & Benefits: This is the amount paid for personnel services rendered by employees in accordance with the pay rates, hours worked, and terms and conditions of employment authorized by law or stated in employment contracts (memoranda of understanding--MOU). This category includes such line items as regular salaries, temporary salaries, social security, workers' compensation insurance and health insurance, and retirement contributions.
Services & Supplies: This category of expenditures includes a wide range of goods and commodities, such as office supplies, postage, office rental, printing, maintenance and leasing of equipment, fuel for vehicles, office equipment, telecommunications and internet service, travel and training, etc. that are used to support the operation of a department or program, as well as professional and specialied services other than those provided by County personnel which are needed by the County. These services may be provided by another govermental agency or by private business organizations under contract to the County.
Other Charges: This category includes payments to institutions and individuals, such as public assistance payments and payments to institutions for care and treament of individuals.
Capital Expenditures: This category includes purchases of land, equipment, vehicles and construction work on new and existing structures, roads, and bridges.
THE BUDGET HAS TWO BASIC COMPONENTS: FINANCING SOURCES AND FINANCING REQUIREMENTS
Wyoming State law requires counties to adopt balanced budgets; that is, proposed spending cannot exceed available financing resources.
The budget refers to the County's adopted financial plan for a single fiscal year. For Wyoming counties, this period is July 1 through June 30 of the following year. When referring to a particular, fiscal year, the acronym "FY" is often used. For example, FY22 refers to the 12 months from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The State of Wyoming operates on a Biennial budget with a two year budget cycle. The Federal Government operates on a fiscal year that extends from October 1 through September 30 of the following year.
The budget is not in balance when the budget requests are received. This is because there are multiple departments financed by the county , and each department prepares its spending request without knowledge or consideration of the requests of the other departments. Typically, when the County Clerk's office totals the spending requests, they exceed the estimated revenues. Many of the revenues of the budget are generated by individual departments in the form of charges or fees for services and grants. Generally, however, these revenues are not sufficient to cover the cost of operations of the departments involved. This is true because most fees and charges that are allowed are set by State law without refard to the cost of providing the related services. Some departments generate very minimal resources compared to the costs they incur to provide their respective functions. This is where non-departmental or discretionary revenues, including property and sales tax, play a significant role in financing the County government. The County has a variety of revenue sources.
THE BALANCED BUDGET EQUATION
Financing Sources (Income)
• Fund Balance Available
• Reduce Reserves
Financing Requirements (Expenses)
• New and/or increased Reserves
• Operating & Capital Expenditures