Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns

Chapter 25. Budgets, Audits and Reports.

§ 15.2-2500. Uniform fiscal year for all localities and school divisions.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of a local charter, the fiscal year of every locality and school division shall begin on the first day of July and end on the thirtieth day of June.

1979, c. 318, § 15.1-159.8; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2501. Establishment of funds for accounting and budgeting; separate depository and investment accounts not required.

Every locality and school division shall establish such funds as may be required by law and as may otherwise be deemed necessary to provide appropriate accounting and budgetary control over the activities and affairs of the locality or school division. This section shall not be construed to require separate depository or investment accounts for the assets of each fund.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2502. Notification by state officials and agencies.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of general law, the Compensation Board and Department of Taxation shall, no later than the fifteenth day following final adjournment of each regular session of the General Assembly, inform all localities and school divisions of the estimated amounts of all state moneys they will receive during the upcoming fiscal year and any other information that may be required for such localities and school divisions to be able to compute amounts of moneys they may collect.

1989, c. 242, § 15.1-159.9; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2503. Time for preparation and approval of budget; contents.

All officers and heads of departments, offices, divisions, boards, commissions, and agencies of every locality shall, on or before the first day of April of each year, prepare and submit to the governing body an estimate of the amount of money needed during the ensuing fiscal year for his department, office, division, board, commission or agency. If such person does not submit an estimate in accordance with this section, the clerk of the governing body or other designated person or persons shall prepare and submit an estimate for that department, office, division, board, commission or agency.

The governing body shall prepare and approve a budget for informative and fiscal planning purposes only, containing a complete itemized and classified plan of all contemplated expenditures and all estimated revenues and borrowings for the locality for the ensuing fiscal year. The itemized contemplated expenditures shall include any discretionary funds to be designated by individual members of the governing body and the specific uses and funding allocation planned for those funds by the individual member; however, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, general or special, an amendment to a locality's budget that changes the uses or allocation or both of such discretionary funds may be adopted by the governing body of the locality. The governing body shall approve the budget and fix a tax rate for the budget year no later than the date on which the fiscal year begins. The governing body shall annually publish the approved budget on the locality's website, if any, or shall otherwise make the approved budget available in hard copy as needed to citizens for inspection.

Code 1950, § 15-575; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 69; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-160; 1976, c. 762; 1978, c. 551; 1997, c. 587; 2008, c. 353; 2013, c. 747.

§ 15.2-2504. What budget to show.

Opposite each item of the contemplated expenditures the budget shall show in separate parallel columns the aggregate amount appropriated during the preceding fiscal year, the amount expended during that year, the aggregate amount appropriated and expected to be appropriated during the current fiscal year, and the increases or decreases in the contemplated expenditures for the ensuing year as compared with the aggregate amount appropriated or expected to be appropriated for the current year. This budget shall be accompanied by:

1. A statement of the contemplated revenue and disbursements, liabilities, reserves and surplus or deficit of the locality as of the date of the preparation of the budget; and

2. An itemized and complete financial balance sheet for the locality at the close of the last preceding fiscal year.

Code 1950, § 15-576; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 69; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-161; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2505. Budget may include reserve for contingencies and capital improvements.

Any locality may include in its budget a reasonable reserve for contingencies and capital improvements.

1980, c. 258, § 15.1-161.1; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2506. Publication and notice; public hearing; adjournment; moneys not to be paid out until appropriated.

A brief synopsis of the budget which, except in the case of the school division budget, shall be for informative and fiscal planning purposes only, shall be published once in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality affected, and notice given of one or more public hearings, at least seven days prior to the date set for hearing, at which any citizen of the locality shall have the right to attend and state his views thereon. Any locality not having a newspaper of general circulation may in lieu of the foregoing notice provide for notice by written or printed handbills, posted at such places as it may direct. The hearing shall be held at least seven days prior to the approval of the budget as prescribed in § 15.2-2503. With respect to the school division budget, which shall include the estimated required local match, such hearing shall be held at least seven days prior to the approval of that budget as prescribed in § 22.1-93. With respect to the budget of a constitutional officer, if the proposed budget reduces funding of such officer at a rate greater than the average rate of reduced funding for other agencies appropriated through such locality's general fund, exclusive of the school division, the locality shall give written notice to such constitutional officer at least 14 days prior to adoption of the budget. If a constitutional officer determines that the proposed budget cuts would impair the performance of his statutory duties, such constitutional officer shall make a written objection to the local governing body within seven days after receipt of the written notice and shall deliver a copy of such objection to the Compensation Board. The local governing body shall consider the written objection of such constitutional officer. The governing body may adjourn such hearing from time to time. The fact of such notice and hearing shall be entered of record in the minute book.

In no event, including school division budgets, shall such preparation, publication and approval be deemed to be an appropriation. No money shall be paid out or become available to be paid out for any contemplated expenditure unless and until there has first been made an annual, semiannual, quarterly or monthly appropriation for such contemplated expenditure by the governing body, except funds appropriated in a county having adopted the county executive form of government, outstanding grants may be carried over for one year without being reappropriated.

Code 1950, § 15-577; 1956, Ex. Sess., c. 67; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 69; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-162; 1976, c. 762; 1978, cc. 126, 551; 1984, c. 485; 1997, c. 587; 2009, c. 280; 2014, cc. 360, 589.

§ 15.2-2507. Amendment of budget.

A. Any locality may amend its budget to adjust the aggregate amount to be appropriated during the current fiscal year as shown in the currently adopted budget as prescribed by § 15.2-2504. However, any such amendment which exceeds one percent of the total expenditures shown in the currently adopted budget must be accomplished by publishing a notice of a meeting and a public hearing once in a newspaper having general circulation in that locality at least seven days prior to the meeting date. The notice shall state the governing body's intent to amend the budget and include a brief synopsis of the proposed budget amendment. Any local governing body may adopt such amendment at the advertised meeting, after first providing a public hearing during such meeting on the proposed budget amendments.

B. Pursuant to the requirements of §§ 15.2-1609.1, 15.2-1609.7, 15.2-1636.8, and 15.2-1636.13 through 15.2-1636.17 every county and city shall appropriate as part of its annual budget or in amendments thereto amounts for salaries, expenses and other allowances for its constitutional officers that are not less than those established for such offices in the locality by the Compensation Board pursuant to applicable law or, in the event of an appeal pursuant to § 15.2-1636.9, by the circuit court in accordance with the provisions of that section.

1983, c. 319, § 15.1-162.1; 1984, c. 523; 1997, cc. 587, 602; 2007, c. 297.

§ 15.2-2508. Governing bodies may require information of departments, etc.

A. Local governing bodies may require the heads or other responsible representatives of all departments, offices, divisions, boards, commissions and agencies of their localities to furnish such information as may be deemed advisable.

B. A constitutional officer, as defined in § 15.2-2511, for any such locality, to the extent information is required, shall be subject to the provisions of this section.

Code 1950, § 15-578; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-163; 1993, c. 681; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2509. Auditor to devise system of bookkeeping and accounting.

The Auditor of Public Accounts shall devise a system of bookkeeping and accounting for use by local governments and others pursuant to § 30-137.

Code 1950, § 15-579; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 69; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-164; 1968, c. 602; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2510. Comparative report of local government revenues and expenditures.

A. The treasurer or other chief financial officer of each locality shall file annually on or before November 30 with the Auditor of Public Accounts a detailed statement prepared according to the Auditor's specifications showing the amount of revenues, expenditures and fund balances of the locality for the preceding fiscal year, accompanied by the locality's audited financial report. The submittal to the Auditor of Public Accounts shall include a notarized statement from the chief elected official and the chief administrative officer of the locality that the locality's audited financial report has been presented to the local governing body.

B. If such annual statement is not filed with the Auditor of Public Accounts, he may perform such work as is necessary to comply with the provisions of this section or hire certified public accountants to do such work. In either event the expenses of such work shall be charged to and paid by the locality failing to supply the required information.

C. The Auditor of Public Accounts shall prepare and publish annually by January 31 a statement showing in detail the total and per capita revenues and expenditures of all localities for the preceding fiscal year. The statement shall contain such analytical tables, explanations and comparisons as may lead to a clear understanding of such information and make the information readily accessible to the readers.

The Auditor of Public Accounts shall mail or deliver by February 1 of each year a copy of the statement to the members of the General Assembly, to the members and clerks of the local governing bodies, and until the supply is exhausted to every citizen who may request a copy.

The provisions of this section shall apply to all counties and cities, to all towns having a population of 3,500 or over, and to all towns constituting a separate school division regardless of their population.

Code 1950, § 15-581; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-166; 1978, c. 725; 1981, c. 139; 1997, c. 587; 2017, c. 484.

§ 15.2-2511. Audit of local government records, etc.; Auditor of Public Accounts; audit of shortages.

A. Localities shall have all their accounts and records, including all accounts and records of their constitutional officers, audited annually as of June 30 by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with the specifications furnished by the Auditor of Public Accounts. The certified public accountant shall present a detailed written report to the local governing body at a public session by the following December 31. Every locality shall contract for the performance of the annual audit not later than April 1 of each fiscal year, and such contract shall incorporate the provisions of this section relating to audit specifications and report date. The report shall be (i) submitted to the Auditor of Public Accounts, (ii) preserved by the clerk of the local governing body, and (iii) open to public inspection at all times by any qualified voter. If the audit is not completed as required by this section, the locality shall promptly post a statement on its website, if such website exists, declaring that the required audit is pending, the reasons for the delay, and the estimated date of completion. Such statement shall also be posted and made available to the public at the next scheduled meeting of the local governing body and also be sent to the Auditor of Public Accounts. The statement shall continue to be posted and updated until the audit is complete.

The accounts and records of any county or city officer listed in Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia, hereinafter referred to as "constitutional officers," shall be subject to the provisions of this section.

When the annual audit conducted pursuant to this subsection includes the clerk of the circuit court, the audit shall satisfy the requirement of an audit pursuant to § 30-134.

In the event that a locality fails to obtain the annual audit prescribed by this subsection, the Auditor of Public Accounts may undertake the audit or may employ the services of certified public accountants and charge the full cost of such services to the locality. However, no part of the cost and expense of such audit shall be paid by any locality whose governing body has its accounts audited for the fiscal years in question as prescribed above and furnishes the Auditor of Public Accounts with a copy of such audit.

B. Except where otherwise authorized by statute, the Auditor of Public Accounts shall audit the accounts of local governments and constitutional officers only when (i) special circumstances require an audit or (ii) there is suspected fraud or inappropriate handling of funds that may affect the financial interests of the Commonwealth. However, the Auditor of Public Accounts shall also audit the accounts of a local government at any other time upon a majority vote of the local governing body, with all expenses of the audit to be borne by the requesting locality. In all instances, such audits shall be carried out with the approval of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Any shortage existing in the accounts of the locality or constitutional officer, as ascertained by the audit, shall be made public within 30 days after the shortage is discovered, and a brief statement thereof shall be sent by the Auditor of Public Accounts to the members and clerk of the local governing body and to the circuit court for the locality and shall be filed in the clerk's office of such court.

C. The provisions of this section shall apply to all counties and cities, to all towns having a population of 3,500 or over, and to all towns constituting a separate school division regardless of their population. However, any town with a population of less than 3,500 that voluntarily has an audit prepared shall also submit the results of such audit to the Auditor of Public Accounts.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, any town not required to submit an audit pursuant to subsection C that voluntarily contracts for or performs an audit shall submit the results of such audit to the Auditor of Public Accounts upon completion of the audit.

Code 1950, § 15-583; 1958, c. 615; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-167; 1978, c. 725; 1981, c. 139; 1985, c. 315; 1993, c. 681; 1997, c. 587; 2013, cc. 239, 392; 2019, cc. 322, 361.

§ 15.2-2511.1. Return of local surplus funds.

Any locality may by ordinance develop a method for returning surplus real property tax revenues to taxpayers who are assessed real property taxes in any fiscal year in which the locality reports a surplus. The locality may reduce a taxpayer's refund by the amount of any taxes, penalties and interest that are due from such taxpayer, or any past-due taxes, penalties and interest that have been assessed within the appropriate period of limitations.

2001, c. 246; 2005, c. 835.

§ 15.2-2511.2. Duties of local government auditors.

A. As used in this section:

"Abuse" means the excessive or improper use of something, or the employment of something in a manner contrary to the natural or legal rules for its use; the intentional destruction, diversion, manipulation, misapplication, maltreatment, or misuse of resources owned or operated by the locality; or extravagant or excessive use so as to abuse one's position or authority.

"Fraud" means the intentional deception perpetrated by an individual or individuals, or an organization or organizations, either internal or external to local government, that could result in a tangible or intangible benefit to themselves, others, or the locality or could cause detriment to others or the locality. Fraud includes a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading statements, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive.

"Waste" means the intentional or unintentional, thoughtless or careless expenditure, consumption, mismanagement, use, or squandering of resources owned or operated by the locality to the detriment or potential detriment of the locality. Waste also includes incurring unnecessary costs because of inefficient or ineffective practices, systems, or controls.

B. Any fraud, waste, and abuse auditor appointed by the local governing body of any county, city, or town having a population of at least 10,000, or any town constituting a separate school division regardless of its population, who by charter, ordinance, or statute has responsibility for conducting an investigation of any officer, department or program of such body, shall be responsible for administering a telephone hotline, and a website, if cost-effective, through which employees and residents of the locality may report anonymously any incidence of fraud, waste, or abuse committed by any such officer, or within any such department or program, of that body. Such auditor may inform employees of the locality of the hotline and website, if any, and the conditions of anonymity, through the conspicuous posting of announcements in the locality's personnel newsletters, articles in local newspapers issued daily or regularly at average intervals, hotline posters on local employee bulletin boards, periodic messages on local employee payroll check stubs, or other reasonable efforts.

Such auditor shall determine the authenticity of every allegation received on the hotline or website and ensure that investigation and resolution activities are undertaken in response to any such authentic allegation in the most cost-effective and confidential manner available; provided, however, that the officer shall assign responsibility for investigation and resolution to other investigative and law-enforcement personnel where such responsibility is prescribed by general law and where appropriate to avoid duplicating or replacing existing investigation and resolution functions.

2006, c. 597.

§ 15.2-2512. Audit of accounts of certain county officers, boards and commissions.

Whenever, upon a petition filed in the circuit court for any county by at least fifty residents of the county, it is believed by the judge of the court that the public interests will be promoted by an audit or examination of the whole or any part of the financial transactions of any county officer, board or commission of the county, the judge may appoint one or more certified public accountants to make and report to the court the result of such audit or examination. The court shall fix the compensation to be paid by the board of supervisors to the accountants.

Code 1950, § 15-264; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-557; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2513. Special budget provisions.

Every locality having special budget provisions in general or special law may choose, by resolution, to comply with the budget provisions of this chapter rather than those special budget provisions.

Code 1950, §§ 15-584, 15-585; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 69; 1962, c. 623, §§ 15.1-168, 15.1-169; 1997, c. 587.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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