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City of Charlotte's Budget Process

City Council’s Annual Retreat (late January/early February) – The initial retreat serves to reaffirm Council priorities and focus areas for the next fiscal year. Additionally, the Budget Director and Finance Director present information regarding the current financial status, five-year financial projections, and identified service delivery needs. These discussions provide the City Manager with a more thorough understanding of the Mayor and Council’s concerns and priorities. 
 
Budget Workshops (March and April) – The budget retreats provide for detailed discussions of the budget issues and decisions that characterize the development of the budget.  Topics are selected from suggestions made by the Council and staff.  There are no votes taken – informal feedback is incorporated into development of the budget.
 
City Manager’s Recommended Budget Presentation (early May) – The budget presentation provides Council with a detailed overview of the Manager’s recommended budget. This provides a forum for the Manager to communicate critical points and significant changes to the budget.
 
Public Hearing on Recommended Budget (mid-May) – This session, as required by State law (Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act), provides an opportunity for citizens to comment on the recommended budget. 
 
Budget Adjustments (mid-May) – The meeting on budget adjustments provides the opportunity for Council to request information on possible changes to the Manager’s Recommended Budget.  By Council procedure, suggested changes to the recommended budget that receive five or more votes from Council members are refined and analyzed by staff for consideration at the Straw Votes meeting.
 
Straw Votes (late May) – By Council procedure, Council members are provided the opportunity to vote on each of the items that received five or more votes from the budget adjustments session. At this point, each of these items receiving six or more straw votes from Council members will be incorporated into the budget adoption ordinance. 
 
Budget Adoption (mid-June) – By State law, the City is required to have a balanced budget adopted no later than June 30th (fiscal year-end).  Adoption is by majority vote with a quorum of those present and voting.