Budget-Balancing Tactics in Local Government

Friday, January 29, 2010
Budget Balancing Tactics in Local Government 2010


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City and county government officials searching for strategies to cope with revenue shortages in local government will benefit from Budget-Balancing Tactics in Local Government. This publication from the University of North Carolina's School of Government was prepared during the budget crisis of the Great Recession and draws on news reports from across the country and survey findings in North Carolina to identify a broad array of cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing approaches used by local governments. Cost-cutting methods discussed include hiring freezes, delayed facility and infrastructure maintenance, across-the-board cuts in departmental budgets, service cutbacks, purchasing and travel restrictions, equipment cutbacks, employee position reductions, furloughs, retirement incentives, and more. Examples of revenue-enhancing ideas addressed in the book are fee increases, tax increases, asset sales, increased reliance on grants, the leasing of government assets to outside parties, and greater reliance on reserve funds, among others. With the end of budget problems nowhere in sight, local government officials will return to these tactics repeatedly in the years ahead.

"Our manager encouraged our budget team to read the book at the start of our budget season. The background we gathered helped us develop cost containment strategies that reflect our core values. Having examples of how other local governments are meeting today's economic challenges was very helpful. They gave us the opportunity to contact our colleagues in these jurisdictions and ask specific questions regarding the tactics they employed.

The book became a launching pad for discussions on how to bring our operating costs in line with available revenues. It also helped us develop 'smarter' cuts and avoid many of the unintended consequences of traditional budget cutting tactics."

– John G. Frye, CPA, Director of Financial Services Village of Pinehurst

Download (pdf, 615.45 KB)
Publication date: 
Friday, January 29, 2010
David N. Ammons
Trevor Fleck
Page count: 
Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
Topics - Local and State Government