Managerial Necessity and the Art of Creating Surpluses: The Budget-Execution Process in West Virginia Cities



Budget execution traditionally has been defined as a straightforward process of implementing the budget as approved. Research into the process has been limited, particularly with regard to local government budgets. This article examines the rebudgeting process using a case study of 15 West Virginia cities. Rebudgeting displayed a consistent pattern for the various budget categories—personnel, contracts, commodities, capital, and contributions—closely resembling the “increase-then-decrease” pattern seen in the overall budget. Empirical data on budgetary adjustments and structured interviews with city finance officials helped to describe budget changes and explain probable causes and effects of behavior during budget execution for these smaller cities. Budget changes were found to be the result of managerial necessity and the exercise of discretion to generate and distribute surpluses.