The Impact of Standard Line-Item Budget on the City Manager

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Looking into the case scenario, it can be noted that the problems that the city manager is entangled in are basically as a result of poor budgeting, the populace having to use dilapidated infrastructure, workers unrest, and persistent use of standard line-item budget. If I were to assume that I am the city manager, the solutions that I would provide to the municipality would essentially be based on understanding and applying lessons drawn from the theories, principles, and practice of public administration. Therefore, finding the most suitable approaches to the challenges relies on the ability to establish the causes or influential factors to the problems.

Establishing the Causes of the Problems

In order to offer the most appropriate solutions to the challenges that the city municipality is facing, it is necessary to find and deal with possible influential factors that lead to budget overrun. As informed by Segelod (2017) project overrun is caused by many interrelated factors that have to be taken into consideration. For instance, projects have certain complexities that are associated with risks. The larger the project as in the case of those that are initiated by the municipality to serve her people, the bigger the risks, thus, there should always be countermeasures in case of underestimation. Inadequate planning like underestimation may lead to sanctioning of crucial projects with fewer funds in which the projected costs might not be a reflection of the realistic approximations. Similarly, the success of municipality projects always depends on the human resource capacities to complete the projects within the stipulated time. Underpaying the contractors or the employees in charge of the project may result in delays, thus, generally increasing the approximated project costs.

When it comes to understanding reasons for employee unrest, the common reasons are poor pay, disparities in remuneration and job appraisals, as well as poor communication between the management to the employees (Morgan & Cook, 2014). I suppose the city has no proper channels of disseminating vital information to the municipality employees regarding their wages, hence the high chances that employee unrest would occur since they need to be working towards achieving common goals.

In addition, there are problems that arise from the use of standard line-item budget from time to time. In reference to Singh (2011), a standard line-item budget format is associated with certain weaknesses that may lead to incompletion of projects. For instance, it is never suitable for projects that highly depend on effectiveness and efficiency such as those that the municipality requires to address its challenges on a long-term basis.

Recommended Changes towards Finding Solutions in the Next Year Budget

Based on the likely causes of the budget overrun, it is recommended that the proper consultations and research are done prior to commissioning any project. For instance, according to Singh (2011), there would be the need to consult various project experts to give their opinions towards proposed projects. Once approved, proper feasibility studies would be carried out to help with effective estimations of the costs that are likely to be incurred. That way, the municipality would avoid underestimations and possibilities of overestimating the value of projects.

In regards to finding solutions to counter the employee unrest, it is recommended that the management establishes effective communication mechanisms to enable understanding of what the employees need. In doing so, the municipality management would be able to address the specific issues that cause the grievances. For instance, in case of employees are dissatisfied with their wages, proper remuneration techniques would be instituted.

Lastly, the municipality would adopt hybridized budgeting styles in which the recommendation is to combine the various formats including zero-based, program, and performance. The combination would enable capitalization of the advantages that they offer and balance the weaknesses that may come from using a single style (Segelod, 2017).


Frederickson, H. G. (2015). Social equity and public administration: Origins, developments, and applications. Routledge.

Morgan, D. F., & Cook, B. J. (Eds.). (2014). New public governance: A regime-centered perspective. ME Sharpe.

Segelod, E. (2017). Project Cost Overrun: Decision-Making, Overruns, and Their Consequences. Cambridge University Press.

Singh, H. (2011). Public Administration: Theory and Practice. Pearson.

August 01, 2023




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