Developing a compliant budget for Wisconsin municipalities

Budget time is starting for many Wisconsin governments and following Wisconsin State Statute Section 65.90 is a must for developing a compliant budget. Many aspects of budget development can be daunting and complying with Section 65.90 requirements of budgeting is no exception.

When preparing your budget, Baker Tilly specialists recommend that Wisconsin municipalities pay special attention to the following areas:

Minimum budget requirements

To comply with statutory requirements, a minimum set of specific items must be included in your government’s budget. Some of these include:

  • A listing of existing indebtedness
  • Actual revenues and expenditures from the prior year
  • Actual revenues and expenditures for not less than six months of the current year
  • Estimated revenues and expenditures for the balance of the year

Additionally, specific guidance is provided to help you determine appropriate timing of publication as it relates to the budget’s public hearing.

All government funds must have adopted budgets

The State of Wisconsin requires all government funds to have adopted budgets. Baker Tilly state and local government auditors often discover funds without adopted budgets. While the reasoning for this varies, there are two common themes: the annual activities of the fund is not known at the time the budget is prepared, or management does not realize that state law requires budgets for that type of fund.

Budget amendments

Amendments to your budget come with various requirements. The key points to remember: budget amendments require a two-thirds majority approval of the governing body and a class one notice must be published or posted within ten days of the change for villages and cities.

Useful and accurate information

A time consuming aspect of budgeting is soliciting information from department heads and compiling that data into easily useable and understandable formats. Accuracy in this area is essential as this information is used to evaluate staffing needs, analyze benefits, adjust wages, understand debt service needs, finance capital project and equipment needs, and inform key stakeholders.

A compliant budget is possible

Although budgeting is not an easy process, with appropriate tools it can be. To develop a compliant budget from the start, Baker Tilly’s state and local government outsourced accounting professionals recommend developing templates, spreadsheets and/or best practices manuals based on Section 65.90 requirements to guide your team through the process.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly state and local government specialists can help create budget tools, templates or best practices manuals, contact our team.