Stacey Isaac Berahzer is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, and works from a satellite office in Georgia.
In each of the 12 months of the year, at least one local government in Georgia is ending its fiscal year. The chart below reflects the distribution of fiscal year ends (FYEs) for the 530 municipalities in the state. Some states stamp out this variety by handing down a fiscal calendar to local governments. But, the flexibility in Georgia perhaps speaks to the home rule nature of the state. The relevant Georgia statute says that when a local government is created, “The governing authority shall establish by ordinance, local law, or appropriate resolution a fiscal year for the operations of the local government.”
Since the local governments have control over the FYE, it can be assumed that each one has selected a date that has some advantage to the staff or the community involved. The eight (8) governments that end their fiscal year in August may have a busy summer, but they perhaps they want to be “ahead” of the start of the federal fiscal year in October. Apart from local preference, this staggered approach among the local governments may also have an advantage to some external entities such as third-party auditors. It seems that audit firms that serve local governments may have a more muted “busy season” since all of their clients aren’t reporting on the same schedule. But, might there be other entities for which this approach is less convenient?