Budgeting for Local Governments in the United States: Deciding Who Gets What, How Much, and Who Pays?

Ron Carlee


Budgeting in U.S. local governments is about more than finance.  The annual operating budgets of cities and counties in the U.S. also serve as their most significant policy documents and their annual operating plans.  Local budgets determine who gets what services, how much they get, and who pays.

            This article summarizes the role of local governments in the U.S., key principles in local government accounting, the evolution of different budget systems, decision making models, and budgeting strategies.

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