Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New County Budget Services Office Proposed

Lancaster County Commissioners received a proposal to establish a new Budget Services office at their Tuesday Work Sesssion.

The proposal, submitted by Maggie Weidinger, Director of Information Technology, was well received by Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman. Commissioner Scott Martin did not attend the meeting.

Weidinger proposed adding a fifth division to the current four division Information Technology (IT) department. The department would be supervised by the County Administrator.

"This is a great idea," Commissioner Lehman said. "I think what it does is really enhance our budget capacity. This is really the first step toward institutionalizing and professionalizing the process in the way I think it should be done"

"We’ll be a leader in this," Commissioner Stuckey added. "This is something I support. It’s my philosophy of a business-way of doing things."

Weidinger said is makes sense for the IT department to establish the Budget Services office since her department has been part of the budget creation process providing "financial data mining" services for years.

"One of the things I heard from the Board (county commissioners) was that it is very important to the Board to have an open and transparent budget process," Weidinger said. "That’s one of the key things you want IT to bring to this."

Adding the Budget Services as a fifth division to the county IT department will have little effect on current budget, since it will only require a reallocation and upgrading of a vacant IT business analyst position, and will use existing administration and analytical staff. The additional costs to the IT department are estimated to be $4700 in 2008.

One of the challenges county officials face each year with the budget is working with state and federal fiscal years. All three are different, making some department run out of money while awaiting funds.

Weidinger indicated the move to create the new Budget Services division within IT should help county employees to understand their current financial situation. Weidinger also said it would help with multi-year budgeting.