By Bob Uphues
For the second consecutive year, the village of Brookfield won't pass its annual budget and appropriations ordinance until well into the first quarter of the new fiscal year, but Village Manager Timothy Wiberg promised it'll be the last time that happens under his watch.
Wiberg took the reins as village manager in late September, a time during a typical year when the annual budgeting process would already be well under way.
Instead of trying to rush through a process in order to file a budget document and appropriations ordinance before year's end, Wiberg said he needs more time for planning.
A schedule of the 2019 budget process shows that Wiberg has targeted mid-February for passage of a budget and late February for passing the appropriations ordinance.
By state law, the appropriations ordinance, which sets the village's legal spending authority, must be filed by the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year, which begins Jan. 1, 2019.
The spending outlined in the appropriations ordinance, said Wiberg, will mirror spending earmarked in the budget.
"I promise you I will never come to you again with a budget calendar that's going to result in a budget that is adopted after the start of the fiscal year," Wiberg told the village's president and trustees at their Oct. 22 meeting.
Wiberg said future budgeting would involve a six-month review process starting in summer. He also suggested making changes to the current budget process, adding more room for high-level planning and making it more transparent to residents.
"I see some opportunities in the budget process to add some more strategic planning elements, make the budget document a little bit more of a public education guide," Wiberg said. "This is what's going to establish the village's priorities, staff's priorities to you, and then you make the ultimate decision of how we're going to spend our scarce resources."
In December, Wiberg said he will meet with department directors, who will be asked to defend their budgets for next year. Wiberg said he will go through those department budgets line item by line item, a process that will also help acquaint him with Brookfield operations.
"I'll be learning a lot," Wiberg said. "There's no better way for me to get to know the organization in detail once I go through their budgets with a fine-toothed comb."
An important part of Brookfield's budgeting process, including the one that's just begun for 2019, will be a budget workshop — tentatively scheduled in early January. Wiberg called the workshop "one of the most important meetings of the year."
"This budget workshop will be staff's opportunity to present policy issues that we're going to bring to the village board," Wiberg said.
At that workshop, staff and board members can address budget shortfalls, adjust spending priorities and capital expenditures.
The workshop would be followed later in January by a budget hearing, where the public can comment on the proposed budget and the board can work though final tweaks, if any.
The Brookfield Village Board passed its 2018 appropriations ordinance in February after a health emergency sidelined the village's finance director, Doug Cooper, from late October 2017 until January during a critical stage of the budgeting process.