1. #1
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    Question How many of dept. use a line item budget?

    Our Board of Directors does not want us to use a line item budget. They just don't grasp the concept. How can we present this in a way that will sell. I'm sure if we do finally start using it, they will see how mush easier it is to keep track of $$$$. Those of you who are and have been running with a line item budjet, please give me your thoughts. Thanks!

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    Can you elaborate a little bit? I'm not sure I get what's happening to you. Is it that you are trying to make detailed funding requests and someone is just saying "give us a number and go away?" Is it that you have no internal controls or real internal budgetary planning at your company and you're trying to convince the powers that be to be more responsible/structured? Is it something else?

    I'd like to help you, but I'm not quite sure what sort of situation I'd be speaking to.

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    I would think that they would like to see you have put some thought into what you think you need in various areas and have some reasoning behind your request.

    Even if they do not like that, which they don't really understand some of the stuff your line items include anyway, you can use it internally to get your number.

    We have had line item for years. It works as long as the line item is not so specific that your painting yourself into a box on purchases. General buckets of Misc. Equipment, Truck Maintenance, PPE, Radio/communications, etc etc.....

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    Sorry guys, I will try to be a little more detailed....

    Basically, we just lump our needs and expected expenditures together, tally the dollars and say "here's what we need to spend (X amount) on this year". This is one lump sum and there is not only fire equipment in the proposal, there is also office supplies, station equipment (gear washer), truck equipment and PPE etc.

    What we would like to do is present this (Line item budget) every year:

    Station supplies-$XXXX
    Truck/firefighting equipment-$XXXXX
    PPE-$XXXXX
    Training-$XXXX
    Maintenance/fuel-$XXXXX
    Uniforms-$XXX
    Contingency fund-$XXXX
    Misc.-$XXXX

    If I am correct, there still is a "lump sum" however, we wouldn't have to go back to our board and justify if something else comes up that we need. We could just move $$$$$ from one line item to the other. The $$$$ are approved.

    Hope this makes more sense!!!

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    Yes, what you explained is how we do it. We make a best guess as to what each item will take. I get a monthly report from the Village accounting dept as to where each item is at in relation to the line item and the overall bottom line.

    Our Village Trustees know that the Chief, is directly responsible to them on budget issues. As long as the overall budget is being followed I can do as needed. Last year truck repairs were over by 5000 so I had to make it up by spending less elsewhere.

    Obviously you do not want to have something major happen and not inform the board. But they know how I operate and I have a track record that they approve of on the spending.

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    We have a line item budget but all we send to the town is the total figure for there approval. With so many different types of organizations out there it is really hard for anyone to comment when we dont know all the details on how your FD is run in the scheme of things.

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    we are a municipal deapartment and use a line item budget and blanket PO's....makes life much easier.
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    A line item budget is the only way to go if you truly want to be able to control expenditures. that being said, we are not tied into that budget if we have some unexpected expenditures in one area. We do have the ability to move that money around if we have a failure in a major piece of equipment, and it requires repalcement, as an example. Our board likes to be able to see exactly where our money is going to go, as they are a curious lot and tend to ask us an awful lot of questions, which in the end turns out to generally be a good thing.

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    I think that's the key...you need to have some flexibility to move resources around as needs change, and most governing bodies would understand this. For a few years now, we have had to submit a line-item budget (similar to the general example you gave) each year before receiving our municipal allocation, and then submit to an audit at the end of the year. There are a few advantages to this process:

    (1) It makes the officers and crew sit down and actually figure out in advance what major projects they expect to undertake in a given year ahead of time. This process seems to have cut down "impulse" projects and led to more projects getting completed in a more timely fashion because people are thinking about them sooner and more often.

    (2) It provides a second level of control, which, in effect, "certifies" that we've spent out money responsibly. It would be very difficult for anyone inside the organization to embezzle or anyone outside the organization to effectively level charges of fiscal irresponsibility when everything we do gets the Township's stamp of approval (either before or after the fact).

    (3) As more and more budgets and actuals pile up, it's becoming easier and easier to plan for the future. We now have a really good picture of exactly what it takes to "make our operation go" on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis...and that should help us to maintain (and enhance) our funding going forward, since everything we're doing is documented in detail as we go.

    Many volunteer organization fear oversight, but we really have benefitted from giving up some of our autonomy and control in exchange for municipal support. I hope this helps.

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    Cool

    Thanks Guys! That really helped out a lot. I plan on discussing your replies with the Chief who is very receptive to this type of budget, just our board has no clue. We will plan on how to present this in a little different way and hope they will be more understanding.
    I WILL NOT be using your replies head-to-head with the board, just your info. to present the idea....AGAIN!

    Stay safe and Thanks!

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    Default leftover $$ at end of year

    Guys - not sure if this the proper forum, but not sure where else to turn.

    Im in a small volunteer department with a budget that comes from our village taxes and the town we contract with. Questions came up recently at a meeting about what happens with our underspent line items. From what our department treasurer hinted at, I think any underspent money gets moved to a department-owned savings account at the end of our financial year. Also, when I asked how much we had in savings, the response I got was, "I'll tell you later after the meeting. I don't think the entire membership needs to know, especially our members still in high school."

    This kinda strikes me as weird or maybe wrong, and as a local tax-payer perhaps illegal, but I'd like to get your thoughts. Id assume that any unspent money that comes from taxes would go back to the municipality.
    Thanks - Titan

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    Any unspent money for the year gets rolled into our general fund. This is what we use for capital items such as apparatus, SCBAs, Radios, etc.

    And yes, as a public entity, every amount of money anywhere should be public knowledge.

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    Tax money cannot be put into a department owned account. It is not your money to save. Unspent tax money is to be returned to the tax payers, or your town government that allotted you that money.


    Personally, if your treasurer is hinting at that...I'd hire some financial lawyers real quick. Once people find out you are "keeping" their tax money...you gonna be in some trouble.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Tax money cannot be put into a department owned account. It is not your money to save. Unspent tax money is to be returned to the tax payers, or your town government that allotted you that money.


    Personally, if your treasurer is hinting at that...I'd hire some financial lawyers real quick. Once people find out you are "keeping" their tax money...you gonna be in some trouble.
    Depends on the state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Tax money cannot be put into a department owned account. It is not your money to save. Unspent tax money is to be returned to the tax payers, or your town government that allotted you that money.


    Personally, if your treasurer is hinting at that...I'd hire some financial lawyers real quick. Once people find out you are "keeping" their tax money...you gonna be in some trouble.
    Depends on how the money was earmarked. We get a "donation" every year that goes directly to our association.

    When I was chief and balancing the books, I had to account for every dime of our budget outside of the "donation". I kept a different and distinct bank account from the association. This was the "chief's account" and I would use this for any official taxpayer funded expenses.

    We had an interesting way of doing it... I would get a lump sum in the beginning of the year that was the "donation" and then submit receipts and cancelled checks for any expenses and get reimbursed. Over the year, as I got reimbursed, I then funded the "donation" to our association.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firetacoma1 View Post
    Any unspent money for the year gets rolled into our general fund. This is what we use for capital items such as apparatus, SCBAs, Radios, etc.

    And yes, as a public entity, every amount of money anywhere should be public knowledge.
    Our fire district holds the purse strings for fire protection. The "Fire Dep't, Inc" gets no tax money.

    The fire district has a very detailed line item budget. If I buy an axe, it goes against small equipment. If I buy a length of hose, it goes against the hose line item. I don't have to estimate things like heat, lights, and phones - the district decides where the market will go and plans accordingly.

    The fire district already puts money into reserve accounts for major items. Any surplus at the end of the year generally goes into the reserve accounts as well. We used to do and end of year "spending spree," but that's no longer the case.

    In NY, a fire district is a municipal entity, just like a town, city, or village.

    At budget planning time, I don't have to figure out exactly what I need, unless it's extraordinary. I routinely get $X for PPE in the budget, f'rinstance. Some years it gets spent, plus some, others not so much.

    The fire district has a purchasing policy that I must follow when buying anything. And when I do buy it, it's billed directly to them.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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