Budgeting in a Sea of Unknowns

Key takeaways regarding budgeting and how to approach the unknown amid the current COVID-19 crisis

Cities across the country are deep into the preparation of their FY2021 budgets, a job that is difficult in the best of circumstances for both City Managers and Finance professionals. However, under the current pandemic conditions, it is seriously daunting and looks almost impossible. This is particularly true for those jurisdictions preparing multi-year projections. The first challenge is doing the projections at all. The second challenge is working with your elected officials, bargaining groups, and community to accept them!

So how do cities prepare budgets in these radically uncertain times?

The key is the assumptions underlying the numbers. In any crisis management challenge, accurate information is critical. However, the more turbulent and uncertain the environment in which the budget has to be developed, the greater the importance of collecting broad data to support grounding assumptions; and the more critical it becomes for staff to share that supporting data and their related analysis with their elected officials.

That brings us to COVID-19 and the unknowns of the rapidly evolving economic landscape. While all cities currently share the same general uncertainty, each community is, in fact, unique. They are different in size. Their business community mix may be very different than the adjacent communities. Their social priorities may vary widely. Their ability to deliver services, and the type of services they deliver, may differ. Their population may be younger or older than other communities. So, while certain assumptions may apply across all of them, others are going to be unique to each community.

With this in mind, how does each city approach budget development?

There are four areas that any city must now consider when building their FY2021 budgets (particularly when building Year One of a multi-year budget), although how they gather information and the resulting assumptions they make may vary widely:

  1. The Pandemic
  2. The Economic Shutdown
  3. Recovery
  4. Future Planning (Lessons Learned)

Download our recent White Paper: Budgeting in a Sea of Unknowns to read more as we outline ways to approach budgeting in these uncertain times.




Steps Avenu is Taking to Support Clients and Employees During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a fluid situation that has everyone on alert. Avenu’s number one concern is maintaining the health and well-being of both our customers and employees, while continuing to ensure the continuity of all business services.

As you are aware, an expanding number of government agencies and commercial businesses are taking steps to impose curfews, ban large gatherings, regulate travel and enact other restrictions that are reasonable and necessary to protect public health and the welfare of their citizens and employees.

Avenu is no exception.

Here are the steps Avenu is currently taking:  

  • Communication
    • Providing updates and best practices to employees to mitigate exposure and contagion
    • Sharing information with our customers on any changes in our operating levels
  • Operations
    • Deploying technical solutions to continue operational support for our customers
    • Ensuring all critical business functions have both primary and secondary employee assignments
    • Verifying that all critical vendors have plans to maintain normal operating levels
  • Travel
    • Canceling all non-essential air travel and assessing risks of any business travel
    • Limiting the attendance and exhibition at conferences to reduce social exposure until further notice
    • Postponing plans for large internal meetings
    • Videoconferencing for meetings when possible
  • Work from Home
    • Allowing/Requiring employees to work from home where situationally appropriate
    • Having employees who fall under the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) guidelines self-quarantine for 14 days

It’s important for you to know that we are closely monitoring the situation and prepared to further activate our Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Visitor Access and Pandemic Management plans in the event more action is needed.

This is a unique time in history, and we are hopeful that the proactive actions by everyone around the world will help reduce further illness and disruption.   We sincerely wish you, your families, employees and citizens the best of health.