In 1975 the Utah Legislature adopted the Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act for Counties – a law designed to provide specific and unified direction for counties in preparing budgets, controlling funds, auditing procedures, and specific fiscal controls. This law designates one county official to act as the budget officer – this falls to the county auditor (or clerk/auditor in some counties), but can also fall to the county executive if the county adopts an alternate form of government.
The process begins prior to November 1 with county divisions, departments and elected offices submitting their budget requests to the budget officer, who then creates a tentative budget that must be approved by December 31. The tentative budget is then presented in a public hearing and then eventually adopted by the county commission or council (some counties include the county executive or mayor in the approval process). The act permits counties to adopt a fiscal year, consisting of either one calendar year (January 1 to December 31) or a biennial fiscal year, consisting of two calendar years.
The Utah State Auditor plays a role in the county budget process in unifying the fiscal procedures, as well as provide information, materials and training to county auditors, and he or she is assisted by an advisory committee of officials and citizens in those efforts.
By law, county budgets must include certain fund information. The budget officer can recommend modifications to requests before the initial draft is released. There are many other provisions too numerous to share here that address things such as limitations on how counties can accumulate, transfer or account for different rescources, as well as changes that can be made, audits and reports that are required, and the process of evening out or creating tax stability.
Related: Kerri Nakamura Discusses County Budgeting Process