I recently sat down with a councilor to discuss an entirely different issue, but we got talking about multi-year budgeting processes.
For those who might not be familiar with this practice, it is in effect a multi-year fiscal planning framework that has a lot to commend it. In many municipalities, budgets are a yearly ritual, and we find that a lot of staff resources get entangled in a lengthy process that seems to start over again just when it was just completed. Moreover, not everything a municipality does can fit ever so neatly within the budget cycle.
Most budgets are presented sometime around November to allow for any further modifications and alterations as needed, and the whole shebang goes into effect at the end of the fiscal year in March. I think it is pretty clear what the advantages can be in adopting a different budget cycle framework, but a few of them I can list here:
There are other benefits to adopting this kind of fiscal planning, and it does not have to mean that a budget devised in one year will be set in stone for the x number of years to come, but it ensures some degree of alignment between elected officials, staff, and the community in a way that gives a strategic plan the financial oomph derived from some degree of predictability.