Alabaster receives ‘distinguished budget’ award

ALABASTER – The city of Alabaster recently received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its fiscal year 2020 budget.

The award represents a significant achievement by the city. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting, according to a news release. In order to receive the budget award, the city had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device.

Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in four categories, and in the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for having achieved the award. In this case, the certificate was presented to the city’s Finance Department, which is led by finance director John Haggard.

The 2020 fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2019 and ends Sept. 30. Every year, the city of Alabaster’s budget process begins with a budget kickoff meeting on the first Monday of May. This meeting includes department heads and the expectations and goals of the mayor, city administrator and Alabaster City Council are outlined.

After the budget kickoff meeting, the department heads are instructed to update their five-year capital plans in accordance with the plans and goals outlined. The mayor reviews the five-year plans to better assess the budget requests for the upcoming years.

During three separate work sessions, the budget is presented to the Alabaster City Council and they can request changes and amendments to the budget, Haggard said. The goal is to have a final budget prepared and ready to adopt by the last City Council meeting in September.

The budget is ultimately a reference document, Haggard said.

“The goal is to have everything a citizen might need to know about the city’s finances for the current year in one place,” he said. “It’s an encyclopedia for our finances.”

The city’s budget can be found at Cityofalabaster.com/DocumentCenter/View/3391/Alabaster-Budget-Fiscal-Year-2020-PDF.

“You can go there and look up any piece of information you want to know, Haggard said. “If you want to know how many vehicles we plan to purchase this year, go to the Capital Plan. If you want to know how all of the property tax you pay is split up, go to Property Tax Summary on page 116. Personally, I love to help people understand the budget and find the information they are looking for.”

If any citizen needs help understanding or finding anything in the budget, give Haggard a call at 205-378-5721.

There are over 1,600 participants in the Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly on GFOA’s website.