Unpacking participatory budgeting together
L.A. County’s budget process has historically been a complicated process that has deliberately excluded robust community involvement. To ensure our community has greater tools and knowledge to mobilize for shared decision-making of the budget, we’ve compiled this list of key terms that frequently show up in the work we do. Dive even deeper with this Language Guide from our coalition partner CURB.
Key Terms: LA County Budget – FY 2021-22
CEO: The Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office (CEO) assists the Board of Supervisors (BOS) with the administration of the county. The CEO makes annual recommendations on departmental budgets.
Fiscal Year (FY): A fiscal year is a one-year period that companies and governments use for financial reporting and budgeting. Most government agencies use a fiscal year from July 1 – June 30th of the following year.
Key Budget Cycles:
See LA County budget overview video, and the most recent budgets documents on this page: https://ceo.lacounty.gov/budget/
LA County budget archive: https://ceo.lacounty.gov/budget-archives/
Recommended Budget: Each year, the CEO recommends a budget to the BOS (in April) based on department budget requests and the amount of expected revenue from taxes and state/federal funds. This is later adjusted and finalized in the adopted budget (in June).
Adopted Budget: The adopted budget is based on the Recommended Budget, and is passed at the end of June. There are usually only slight adjustments from the recommended budget to the adopted budget.
Supplemental Budget: The Supplemental Budget is passed in the fall, usually at the end of September or early October. The Supplemental Budget is based on the precise amount of funding the County will receive from the state or federal government (in recent years, this has meant additional dollars than what was budgeted for in June). For this reason, supplemental budget adjustments often add additional one-time funding to departments and programs, but do not usually affect core operations such as the number of budgeted positions in a department. Supplemental adjustments are taken into account and reflected in the Final Budget books found in the budget archives. Sometimes, the Supplemental Budget is referred to as the “final” budget, but budget changes can be made by the Board anytime during the year (but it does not happen often).
Terms to Help You Read the Budget:
Gross vs Net:
Gross: The total or whole amount of something
Net: What remains from the whole after certain deductions are made
For example, a company with revenues of $10 million and expenses of $8 million reports a gross income of $10 million (the whole) and net income of $2 million (the part that remains after deductions).
Revenue: Source of income (like state and federal grants) and taxes collected locally
Expenditures & Appropriations:
Expenditures: The cost of goods and services, the spending of resources
Appropriation: A legal authorization to make expenditures
Gross Total: The total cost of all expenditures
Net Total: The total cost, after accounting for transfers from other funds (in this case, intrafund transfers)
Actual: What was actually spent that year
Adjusted (ADJ) Budget: Final budget passed after supplemental changes
Net County Cost: The amount paid for by general purpose revenues, such as property taxes. Abbreviation: NCC
Provisional Financing Uses (PFU): Money set aside for later usage and approval (Note: not 100% sure on this definition)