The Finance Department is responsible for the systems and procedures that assure the sound and efficient functioning of the City's financial activities. The flow of financial activities begins with a plan (budget). The plan is then implemented and the transactions recorded (accounting); and finally, the results are reported (financial statements).
To make this process function smoothly, the Finance Department assists the Mayor in preparing an operating budget and a six-year capital improvements program (the first year of which is the capital budget) before the start of each new fiscal year. As each fiscal year unfolds, these budgets are carefully monitored for the extent to which actual financial transactions vary from the budget.
When the actual financial transactions occur, the Finance Department must see that all monies due the City are collected, and all City liabilities are paid on time. All cash received has to be either immediately disbursed, kept safely on hand, or invested.
The Department routinely analyzes the flow of cash in and out of the City accounts for a number of purposes, not the least of which is to know the length of time a given amount of cash can be invested for short-term operating needs or for longer-term capital needs. When funds are needed that exceed the City's cash reserves, then the Department arranges to borrow them privately or sells bonds in the open market.
The Finance Department also keeps an accurate record of all financial transactions, generates interim financial reports, and produces audited financial statements at the end of each fiscal year. More specifically, it prepares the City's payroll; it bills, collects, and accounts for City taxes, water and sewer fees, residential refuse fees and capital facilities assessments; and it maintains a file of the City government's fixed assets.
Additionally, the Finance Department analyzes non-routine financial situations, undertakes special financial projects and studies, and responds to requests for financial information from other governmental agencies and private enterprises. The Department also administers the City's self-insurance program, and maintains a computer installation that supports most of the functions mentioned above and provides, as well, computerized Management Information Technology services to other City departments.