Factors Influencing the Politics and Process of County Government Budgeting

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This article reports the results of a national survey on the politics and process of budgeting in nearly 200 counties. We find that revenue availability is the single most important determinant of the total county budget. Other key factors that greatly influence county budgets are federal and state mandates, tax and debt limitations, and the priorities of county officials. This article also examines the process of county budgeting, particularly who has the primary responsibility for preparing county budgets. The authors found that fewer than 10 percent of the sample counties had an executive budget type found in state or national governments. County governments were more likely to have a budget prepared by an elected county auditor or clerk by an appointed administrative officer or manager. The budget process used appears to be directly related to form of county government, population size, and regional difference in state law or historical precedents.

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