How Do I?

What is Baltimore’s budget process?

You can learn more about the budget process here.

How can I engage in the budget process?

Residents can engage in the budget process at two public events—the Board of Estimates Taxpayers’ Night and the City Council Taxpayers’ Night. These events provide residents the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about the budget with the Board of Estimates and the City Council, which may result in changes to the budget. You can learn more about the budget process here.

Our office also offers presentations to community groups, which can provide residents with more information about the budget and the budget process to better inform themselves and their efforts to improve their community and the City at large. You can request a presentation in your community by contacting us at [email protected]. Additionally, we’re working to expand our public participation by increasing our presence on social media, engaging more regularly with residents, and launching web-based tools to collect more direct feedback on the budget.

How does the City assess the impact of its budget investments?

The Mayor’s Office of Performance and Innovation (OPI) and BBMR have collaborated in a rigorous review process of agency performance measures and management. Each agency has performance measures that are used to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their services. These measures are audited by the Comptroller’s office every two years and are reviewed by the agencies, OPI, and BBMR to ensure they accurately reflect the work within the agency.

What financial standards influence how the budget is developed?

When developing the budget, the BBMR works with the Mayor and their senior team to identify budget priorities. While we work with the Mayor and agencies to meet these priorities, we also have a few key things that guide our work as we go through the budget process.

First, the City Charter mandates that the budget be balanced by agency at the end of each fiscal year, so we are always trying to make sure that agencies are accurately budgeting and planning for the upcoming year.

Second, we work to ensure that the City and resident receive a high return on investment through efficient and effective service provision.

Third, we want to ensure that the City is fiscally responsible and healthy. We do this by maintaining a high bond rating, which is like City’s credit score; ensuring that we have a rainy-day fund, so there is access to funds in case of emergencies; and assessing our debt ratio, which is the rate that we’re borrowing compared to the amount of money that we have.

Finally, we are always aware that the economy could change, and we could face major bumps ahead, so we ensure that our planning and budgeting accounts for possible future challenges to keep the City on a strong fiscal path.