Column: Zero-based budgeting emphasizes transparency, fiscal responsibility


Commentary by Mayor Sue Finkam

As mayor of Carmel, I am committed to ensuring our city’s financial health and accountability for our residents. To that end, I recently announced a bold step forward: The implementation of zero-based budgeting. This approach represents a fundamental shift from traditional budgeting methods, emphasizing fiscal responsibility and transparency as promised in my Elevate Carmel Plan.

Zero-based budgeting requires us to justify every dollar spent, from the ground up, each fiscal year. Unlike incremental budgeting, where previous budgets serve as baselines, zero-based budgeting starts from scratch. This method compels departments to evaluate needs critically, prioritize effectively and eliminate inefficiencies.

Our city has experienced remarkable growth and faces complex challenges. Zero-based budgeting offers a strategic advantage by aligning spending with our community’s evolving needs. It empowers departments to innovate, streamline operations and deliver better services to our residents.

This approach fosters accountability and ensures that taxpayer dollars are used wisely. It encourages proactive planning and prevents budgetary bloat, fostering a culture of efficiency and responsiveness.

Transparency is another cornerstone of zero-based budgeting. This openness builds trust and encourages civic engagement as residents witness firsthand how their tax dollars are allocated and spent.

Implementing zero-based budgeting requires commitment and collaboration. Working with city officials, department heads and residents, we can redefine fiscal stewardship in Carmel, setting a standard for accountability and efficiency in municipal governance.

In the coming months, my administration will work tirelessly to transition to zero-based budgeting. We will provide training and support to departments, facilitate public discussions, and ensure a smooth implementation process for this upcoming budget cycle.

Through zero-based budgeting and other financial transparency initiatives that will be released in the next several months, Carmel is positioned to be a model of fiscal responsibility and innovation. Together, we can build a brighter future for our city and all who call Carmel home.

Sue Finkam is mayor of Carmel. Contact the mayor at [email protected].