October 19, 2012
Re: User Friendly Budget Proposed Reporting Platform Update
As you may recall, the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) is required, by law, to develop a “User Friendly Budget” for use by all municipalities pursuant to P.L. 2007, c. 63. Toward that end, DLGS sought our input on the draft proposed User Friendly Budget reporting platform (See our September 7 Dear Mayor letter).
On September 28 we submitted comments and suggestions to the Division for consideration. In drafting the comments we worked closely with municipal officials, managers and members of the Government Finance Officers Association. In addition to the technical issues we raised. We questioned the time period in which the Division is requesting the data. N.J.S.A. 40A:5-48 (b) states that the Division can ask for information for the municipality’s current year and previous year budget. However, the proposed User Friendly Budget form requests data over various time periods.
The League has previously raised concerns about the possible cost and time involved in producing the User Friendly Budget. In fact, in 2009 at a Local Unit Alignment Reorganization and Consolidation Committee meeting League Executive Board Member and Somerdale Mayor Passanante raised concerns on the record about the potential for the user friendly budget to become an unfunded mandate. At that time, then DCA Commissioner agreed that this could well be the case. We believe that DLGS is trying to make the requirements as painless as possible. However, we will continue to monitor the possibility that this could become an unfunded mandate.
We anticipate that the Division will introduce the proposed rules at the November Local Finance Board meeting.
We will continue to keep you posted.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.