What Are Budget Notes?

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Governments, businesses and all types of organizations use budgets to control and analyze their finances. Budget notes, which appear as additional text on a formal budget, are part of the process.

Definition

A budget note, as the name implies, is a note that someone involved in the budget drafting or approval process adds to the document as a means of giving additional information to colleagues or anyone else who reads the budget. According to the State of Oregon's Legislative Fiscal Office, the use of budget notes has existed for decades. Budget notes are not part of the budget itself and do not affect the numbers. Instead they add information or provide recommendations for future budgets.

Types

Budget notes can take several forms. Some refer to numbers in the budget, noting approval or disapproval of spending plans or revenue expectations. Other budget notes cite unsustainable portions of the budget and note the need to make changes or the reason for the unusual figures. Still others summarize data in a budget for quick access to basic facts. For example, a budget note may indicate that there have been no changes to an organization's payroll since the previous budget, but note that the next budget should include payroll increases that will necessitate spending cuts elsewhere.

Authors

Anyone involved in writing or approving a budget may have an opportunity to add notes. Budget notes are common when budget committees develop budgets that include provisions that are difficult for all committee member to agree on. In these cases, budget notes may express dissenting opinions or note areas of concern. Legislative bodies also add budget notes. For example, a government executive office that writes budgets may need to submit them to lawmakers for approval, giving the legislators time to add notes before voting.

Uses

Some budget notes supply information for the reference of readers. Others are meant to impact future budgets. By making budget notes part of the document, authors ensure that future budget writers will be able to recall the issues that surrounded the budget. Besides serving as reminders, budget notes also help organizational leaders track their own budget processes. For example, if a business finds itself overspending in a certain area, leaders can refer to budget notes in that section as they seek ways to correct the problem.

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