Building the Budget

Once you know where funding comes from and how much you can expect, you can begin to prepare the budget. Budgeting is vital to the library's planning process and one of the most important Board functions.

The budgeting process includes the following steps:

Define the library's goals for the upcoming year based on the library's long-range plan. What does the library really need? Base the budget on those needs. The budget will change as the goals change.

Gather information to project costs of providing services and meeting the year's goals.

Estimate potential income from taxes, gifts, fines, fees, grants and any other possible source of income.

Compare costs and income to see if all the goals can be met. If income exceeds or equals costs, the budgeting process continues.

Adjust objectives if funding doesn't cover goals, or search for additional funding.

Present the written budget to the funding body.

The Board and the director work on the budget together but, ultimately, the Board is responsible for its approval and will typically present it to the entity with funding authority, within the required time frame and procedural steps. It is important for Board members to support the budget and speak out for library funding.

As in any planning activity, it is important to establish a schedule. A comprehensive, balanced budget cannot be compiled overnight. Allow adequate time for planning, gathering information, reviewing goals and producing a finished product that will allow the library to meet the community's needs for library services.

The schedule on the next page shows specific steps for building the budget. Key dates are also included in the calendar in Appendix.