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Finance Divisions

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Revenue Management

The revenue management program administers the City’s treasury and revenue operations in accordance with established fiscal policies.

Program Goals

  • Developing and implementing effective and efficient revenue planning, monitoring, and reporting systems which help ensure the City’s long-term fiscal health.
  • Providing quality customer service.
  • Protecting the City’s cash assets from unauthorized use.

Program Activities

  • Business tax. Administering the business tax system, including annual renewals of all City businesses, issuing tax certificates to new businesses, enforcing the business tax ordinance, implementing gross receipt verification programs, and providing mandated business tax information to the State.
  • Accounts receivable. Maintaining organization-wide accounts receivable system, including grant receipts and transient occupancy tax (TOT) collections.
  • Cashier and public counter. Providing public counter and cashiering services at City Hall as well as accounting for all bank deposits from other City facilities.
  • Revenue forecasts and rate reviews. Preparing revenue forecasts and monitoring trends; reviewing utility rates, user charges, and development impact fees, and making recommendations to Council as appropriate.
  • Investments, banking services, and debt service administration. Managing the City’s investment portfolio in accordance with adopted policies and plans, including preparing cash flow projections, coordinating broker/dealer services, identifying appropriate investment vehicles and timeframes, and allocating interest earnings among funds in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles; administering the City’s banking services contract; coordinating project financings; and administering debt service obligations in accordance with bond covenants.

Accounting

The accounting program maintains accounting records in accordance with Governmental Accounting Standards    Board (GASB) pronouncements and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  The accounting program issues required financial reports timely and administers the disbursement of City funds in accordance with adopted fiscal policies and internal control procedures.

Program Goals

  • Developing and implementing effective and efficient financial planning, reporting, and accounting systems    that help the operating departments achieve their objectives.
  • Develop and maintain proper internal controls over existing accounting processes.
  • Protecting the City’s resources from unauthorized use.

Program Activities

  • Financial planning and reporting. Preparing the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR); coordinating annual and special audits; preparing annual State Controller’s Reports; issuing interim financial reports on the City’s fiscal and budgetary status; preparing the cost allocation plan; calculating the annual appropriation limit; and providing financial analysis and fiscal information to departmental users, management and theCity Council as needed. 
  • Payroll. Processing the City’s employee payroll; filing required monthly, quarterly and annual reports with taxing authorities and regulatory agencies; coordinating employee benefit coverage and reporting with the Human Resources Department; processing payments for insurance benefits and withheld taxes; preparing and providing annual tax filing documents to City employees and vendors, and providing payroll statistics to various departments and agencies.
  • Accounts payable. Processing the City’s accounts payable and issuing timely disbursements to vendors; filing annual reports required by regulatory agencies; reviewing and maintaining internal controls and adhering to established payable procedures; and maintaining vendor and encumbrance files.
  • General accounting services and policies. Maintaining the general ledger system and chart of accounts; preparing daily cash deposits and reports; reconciling monthly bank statements; establishing accounting related policy systems and practices; coordinating Federal Emergency Management Agency/Office of Emergency Services disaster cost recovery activities; reviewing claims to recover the cost of providing state-mandated services (SB90); and maintaining historical records of the City’s financial performance.
  • Support services. Processing and distributing interdepartmental and U.S. mail; administering formal bids for purchases of supplies, equipment and services (placing bid notices, opening bids, reviewing insurance endorsements, coordinating contract execution, and monitoring insurance after bid award); and inventorying and ordering copier/printer paper supplies.

 

Purchasing:  Bids and Proposals Page

 

Budget

The City of San Luis Obispo has received national recognition for its use of a two-year Financial Plan and budgetary process that emphasizes long-range planning and effective program management. Significant features of the City’s two-year Financial Plan include the integration of Council goal-setting into the budgetary process and the extensive use of formal policies and measurable objectives. The Financial Plan includes operating budgets for two years and a capital improvement plan (CIP) covering five years.

While appropriations continue to be made annually under this process, the Financial Plan is the foundation for preparing the budget in the second year. Additionally, unexpended operating appropriations from the first year may be carried over for specific purposes into the second year with the approval of the City Manager.

Purpose of the City’s Two-Year Financial Plan

The fundamental purpose of the City’s Financial Plan is to link what we want to accomplish for the community with the resources necessary to do so. The City’s Financial Plan process does this by: clearly setting major City goals and other important objectives; establishing reasonable timeframes and organizational responsibility for achieving them; and allocating resources for programs and projects.

Major City Goals

Linking important objectives with necessary resources requires a process that identifies key goals at the very beginning of budget preparation. Setting goals and priorities should drive the budget process, not follow it.

For this reason, the City begins each two-year Financial Plan process with a series of in-depth goal-setting workshops where Council members invite candidate goals from community groups, Council advisory bodies, and interested individuals; review the City’s fiscal outlook for the next five years and the status of prior goals; present their individual goals to fellow Council members; and then set and prioritize major City goals and work programs for the next two years. City staff then prepare the Preliminary Financial Plan based on the Council’s policy guidance.

Financial Plan Policies

Formally articulated budget and fiscal policies provide the foundation for preparing and implementing the Financial Plan while assuring the City’s long-term fiscal health. Included in the Financial Plan itself, these policies cover a broad range of areas such as user fee cost recovery goals, enterprise fund rates, investments, capital improvement management, debt management, capital financing, fund balance and reserves, human resource management, and productivity.

Preparation and Review Process

Under the City Charter, the City Manager is responsible for preparing the budget and submitting it to the Council for approval. Although specific steps will vary from year to year, the following is an overview of the general approach used under the City’s two-year budgetary process:

  • First Year. As noted above, the Financial Plan process begins with a Council goal-setting session to determine major objectives to be accomplished over the next two years. The results of Council goal-setting are incorporated into the budget instructions issued to the operating departments, who are responsible for submitting initial budget proposals. After these proposals are comprehensively reviewed and a detailed financial forecast is prepared, the City Manager issues the Preliminary Financial Plan for public comment. A series of study sessions and public hearings are then held leading to Council adoption of the Financial Plan by June 30.
  • Second Year. Before the beginning of the second year of the two-year cycle, the Council reviews progress during the first year, makes adjustments as necessary, and approves appropriations for the second fiscal year.
  • Mid-Year Reviews. The Council formally reviews the City’s financial condition and amends appropriations, if necessary, six months after the beginning of each fiscal year.
  • Interim Financial and Project Status Reports. Online access to "up-to-date" financial information is provided to staff throughout the organization. Additionally, comprehensive financial reports are prepared monthly to monitor the City’s fiscal condition, and more formal quarterly financial reports are issued to the Council and key City staff. The status of major program objectives—including CIP projects—is also periodically reported to the Council on a formal basis.

2017-18 Budget in Brief

2017-2019 Financial Plan - 2017-18 Preliminary Budget

 

Administration

As set forth in the City Charter, the Council may amend or supplement the budget at any time after its adoption by majority vote of the Council members. The City Manager has the authority to make administrative adjustments to the budget as long as those changes will not have a significant policy impact nor affect budgeted year-end fund balances.