As requested by the City Manager or specified by the administrative code, each director of a department submits an itemized estimate of the expenditures for the next fiscal year for the departments or activities under his control. The finance department assembles this information into a comprehensive budget document which is reviewed by the Managers. The Manager submits the proposed budget (staying within the tax cap) to the Council at least one month before the start of the fiscal year, which begins July 1.
A public hearing on the budget is held before its final adoption by the Council. Notice of the public hearing, together with a summary of the budget as submitted, is published, in the Laconia Daily Sun, at least one week in advance by the City Clerk. The budget must be legally adopted no later than July 27. Should the Council take no final action on or prior to that date, the budget as submitted is deemed to have been finally adopted by the Council.
No appropriation is made for any purpose not included in the annual budget as adopted unless voted by a 2/3s majority of the Council after a public hearing held to discuss the appropriation. The Council may by resolution, designate the source of any money so appropriated.
Each month the Manager reviews Financial and operations trends with the Council.
If it appears that the revenues are less than anticipated, the Council or City Manager may reduce the appropriation for any item or items, except amounts required for debt and interest charges, to such a degree as may be necessary to keep expenditures with the City's revenues. The City Manager may provide for monthly or quarterly allotments of appropriations to departments, funds, or agencies under such rules as he may prescribe.
After the budget has been adopted, no expenditure may be incurred, except pursuant to a budget appropriation, unless there is a specific additional appropriation. The head of any department, with the approval of the Manager, may transfer any unencumbered balance or any portion thereof from one fund or agency within the department to another fund or agency within the department; the Manager, with the approval of the Council, may transfer any unencumbered appropriation balance or any portion thereof from one department to another. Council approval is required before total actual expenditures may exceed the total appropriation for the year.
The City legally adopts one inclusive budget for the General Fund (including dependent schools), three enterprise funds (Sanitary Sewer, Water Works, and Internal Service Funds), and three of the Special Revenue funds (Motorcycle Week, Emergency Medical Services, and Tax Increment Financing Districts).
The Budget Process: In November 2005, the voters approved a Charter Amendment (Tax Cap) to limit the increases in proposed budgets going forward.
This Tax Cap limits increases in net spending for the City, School, and County budgets as follows:
- Increases limited to changes in the Federal National Consumer Price Index (urban)
- New building permits (between April 1st and March 31st) less demolitions times the prior year's tax rate.
This tax cap can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the City Council.