Finance and Budgeting

image of Local Government Center financial management


The purpose of this page is to supply local officials and interested persons with information useful in budgeting, financing and evaluating the services their local governments provide. We hope that this information will spur discussion and lead to innovation and more informed decision-making. The resources provided, however, are for educational purposes and do not prescribe what a local government should do.

Specifically, this page will provide links to the following resources: (1) fact sheets on local government finance; (2) educational program materials; (3) an introduction to the G.R.E.A.T. software that graphically depicts trends in county and municipal revenues, expenditures, taxes, and property values; and (4) other sites pertinent to local government finance topics, such as grant writing and funding.

Financial Management Series

Finances and budgeting are some of the most challenging aspects of local government. The complexities of the rules and laws governing public finance, the ever-increasing demands for services, and the limited revenue sources available to Wisconsin local governments make knowledge of the “tools” of government financial management essential for good decision-making.

The Financial Management series includes financial management presentations and supporting documents intended to familiarize the local government official with the various components of good local government financial management.

Financial Management In-Service

The Local Government Center presented financial management in-services to county faculty in 2010 and 2011. For more information and the materials from each session, please visit our inservice page.

UWEX Educational Program Resources

UW-Extension Local Government Center. “Brief #1 – Tips for Levy Limit Referendums,” February 2019.

UW-Extension Local Government Center. “Fact Sheet #17 – Financial Management in Local Government: Frequently Used Terms,” updated January 2010.

Additional Reading

To learn more about basic budget and finance practices for local government, these are some suggested readings and materials that are available through state agencies, libraries and the International City/County Managers Association.

The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA):

ICMA, in Washington, D.C. provides the following resources, which may be ordered by phone at 1-800-745-8780, or by fax: 1-770-442-9742:

Bennett, James, and James Bubier. “Budgeting and Capital Financing 101,” ICMA (video cassette 99-111), 1999.

International City/County Management Association.  Budgeting a Guide for Local Governments, ICMA (available
in paperback (42193) or self-study program (42290), each $36.00), 1997.

International City/County Management Association.  Management Policies in Local Government Finance, 4th edition, ICMA (paperback 42066), $42.95, 1996.

From other sources:

Kim, Yunji. 2018. Local Governments and Fiscal Stress. In The Municipality, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Vol. 113, No. 7, 3 pages)

Lindenberg, Marc, and Fremont Lyden.  Public Budgeting (In Theory and Practice), Longman Inc., New York, 1983.

Peterson, John E., and Dennis Strachota.  Local Government Finance (Concepts & Practices), Government Finance Officers Association, Chicago, 1991.

Wildavsky, Aaron.  The Politics of Budgetary Process, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1964.

Wisconsin Department of Revenue.  Financial Administration: Handbook for Small Wisconsin Towns and Villages, Madison, WI, 1992.

Financial Links

Wisconsin Department of Revenue – This page links you to government services and information you may need as a clerk, assessor, county official or property owner of the State of Wisconsin. Forms and publications listed on the right-hand side of the page are the most current available.

Wisconsin Department of Administration – The Department of Administration is the source for information on administrative rules for governments within the state. The site directory of their web page provides links to all other State department for financial issues as well as most issues related to State government.

Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau – The Legislative Audit Bureau is a non-partisan legislative service agency created to assist the Legislature in maintaining effective oversight of state operations. The Bureau conducts objective audits and evaluations of state agency operations to ensure financial transactions have been made in a legal and proper manner and to determine whether programs are administered effectively, efficiently, and in accordance with the policies of the Legislature and the Governor.

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau – The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau is a nonpartisan service agency that provides fiscal and program information and analyses to the Wisconsin Legislature, its committees and individual legislators.

Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds – This is the site for the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds that provides information regarding the Wisconsin Retirement System in which many local governments participate.

Government Finance Officers Association – This organization represents many of the Finance Directors and other finance professionals in the public sector. It as additional links to reference materials, training, and other good to know information.

Government Accounting Standards Board – The mission of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board is to establish and improve standards of state and local governmental accounting and financial reporting that will result in useful information for users of financial reports and guide and educate the public, including issuers, auditors, and users of those financial reports.

Grant Sources – This is a listing of grant sources and information produced by UW-Extension. Local governments can click on the links to find information on grants and funding which may be available from a number of sources.

Internal Revenue Service (Federal) – This is the web site for local government issues with the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Government Accountability Office – The Government Accountability Office was formerly the General Accounting Office. This site allows for a search of Federal programs that may affect local government funding and procedures.

If you have any questions or comments about the Finance and Budgeting web page, e-mail Yunji Kim (