The annual financial statement (AFS), provides details of actual figures, both revenue and capital at year-end. The AFS is based on accrual accounting and contains notes elaborating on the figures and explaining the accounting principles concerned.
Every local authority or joint body, under the Local Government Act, 2001, "shall prepare an annual financial statement in accordance with the code of practice issued by the Minister"
The AFS is to be completed within 12 weeks of the end of the previous year.
When completed the elected members consider it and once adopted by the council, it is then forwarded to the minister and the director of audit.
Each year, every local authority in accordance with the Local Government Act, 2001 "shall prepare a draft local authority budget setting out for the next local financial year the expenditure estimated to be necessary to carry out it's functions and the income estimated to accrue to it"."
Under the direction of the manager and assisted by the finance directorate, the draft budget for each year is prepared between September and November.
The format of the draft budget is standard to all local authorities although the layout and information may vary from authority to authority. Income and expenditure is broken down between eight programme groups. These are listed below:
- Housing and Building
- Road Transportation and Safety
- Water Supply and Sewerage
- Development Incentives and Controls
- Environmental Protection
- Recreation and Amenity
- Agriculture, Education, Health and Welfare
- Miscellaneous Services
Within these programme groups data is further broken down into sub-programmes which represents different activities within the programme group. For example, some of the sub programme groups in programme group 1 local authority housing include - assistance to persons housing themselves, assistance to persons improving houses, administration and miscellaneous. Each programme group has its own list of sub-programmes that are relevant to the activities in that programme group.
- The budget must balance. Proposed expenditure must be met from proposed income whether from goods and services, grants or rates.
- The draft budget is presented to the council following consultation with the corporate policy group.
- The adoption of the draft budget is a reserved function of the council. Special budget meetings are held by the council to consider the draft budget.
- There are prescribed periods within which the budget meetings must be held. This can vary from year to year and is decided by the minister.
- The prescribed periods in respect of 2020 budget were 2nd November 2019 to 27th November 2019.
- Public notice is given that the draft budget has been prepared and that copies are available to the general public.
- The draft budget must be adopted within 21 days of the first budget meeting within the prescribed dates. The budget can be adopted with or without amendment.
On the basis of the budget being adopted, an annual rate of valuation is determined to finance the deficiency in the funds of the authority i.e. the part of its expenditure not met by state grants and miscellaneous income. The annual rate of valuation determines the amount of rates to be paid for each €1 of a ratepayer's ratable valuation. This applies to commercial property only.
When the budget has been adopted a copy is forwarded to the DEHLG and copies are made available to the general public.