Baltimore City's Budget Process

Budget Requests

While Baltimore's fiscal year covers the period July 1 through June 30, the budget making process for the next ensuing year begins during the current fiscal year. Agency heads are provided with budget instructions and guidance for developing agency requests including a proposed funding level and general directions regarding the inclusion of new programs or the elimination of existing programs. During the fall of the current fiscal year, operating budget requests are formally submitted to the Finance Department and capital budget requests are submitted to the Planning Commission.

Review of Operating Budget Requests

The Department of Finance reviews the operating budget requests submitted by City agencies and prepares recommendations to ensure conformity with citywide goals identified by the Mayor. The department submits recommendations to the Board of Estimates for their review and develops recommendations for the City Council.

Review of Capital Budget Requests

The Planning Commission reviews the capital budget requests submitted by City agencies and makes recommendations to ensure conformity with the first year of the six-year Capital Improvement Program. Agency requests are submitted with Planning Commission recommendations to the Board of Estimates. The Board of Estimates forwards the proposed capital budget to the Director of Finance and Board of Finance. After review their recommendations are forwarded to the Board of Estimates for review, and development of recommendations to the City Council.

Board of Estimates Approval of Operating and Capital Budgets

The Board of Estimates conducts formal hearings with the heads of City agencies in regard to operating and capital budget requests. The Board of Estimates prepares a proposed Ordinance of Estimates to be submitted to the City Council. A message from the Mayor, as a member of the Board of Estimates, explains the major emphasis and objectives of the City's budget for the next ensuing fiscal year.

City Council Approval of Operating and Capital Budgets

The City Council conducts public hearings on the Ordinance of Estimates and may reduce or eliminate budget items, but may not increase or add new items. The City Council votes to pass the ordinance either with reductions to appropriations or as submitted. It is then forwarded to the Mayor who may disapprove some items of appropriations while approving the rest, but the Mayor cannot increase or add budget items.