Municipal Code, Budget & Plans
There are many laws, plans, and City documents that bind the City Council to certain courses of action and practices. The following is a list of the most notable documents that establish the City Council’s direction.
The Arcata Municipal Code contains local laws adopted as ordinances. Title II of the Code addresses the role of the City Council, and describes the organization of City Council meetings and the appointment of certain city staff positions, advisory boards and commissions. Title II also addresses the City's various Boards, Commissions and Committees. In addition to these administrative matters, the Municipal Code contains a variety of laws including, but not limited to, zoning standards, health and safety issues, traffic regulations, and revenue and finance issues.
The City Council sets both long-term and short-term goals for the City each spring. The goal-setting process includes a review of the previous year's goals, including progress toward completion, and the addition of new goals. The budget is then written with the objective of working toward completion of those goals.
The annual budget is set for Arcata's fiscal year which begins July 1 and ends June 30. It is the primary tool and road map for accomplishing the goals of the City. The budget document is the result of one of the most important processes the City undertakes. By adopting the annual budget, the City Council makes policy decisions, sets priorities, allocates resources, and provides the framework for government operations. Study sessions on the budget are held each May with public hearings held in June, and budget adoption taking place at the second City Council meeting in June.
The annual financial audit includes the financial statements of the City for a fiscal year. It includes the financial condition of the City as reflected in the balance sheet, the results of operations as reflected in income statements, an analysis of the uses of City funds, and related footnotes. The annual financial audit includes statements for the various groups of funds and a consolidated group of statements for the City as a whole. The City Council has the responsibility of hiring an independent auditor, and for reviewing and accepting the audit.
A state-mandated General Plan addresses the City's long-range planning needs relative to land use, transportation, economic development, and other planning elements. The City's General Plan is reviewed on an ongoing basis, but mandatory elements may only be revised four times a year. Certain amendments necessary for affordable housing development are not subject to this limitation.
The City Council adopts various City Plans for the purpose of meeting federal and state mandates, establishing departmental policy and operations, and to accomplish City goals. The chart of adopted City Plans is updated biennially along with the City Council Protocol Manual. The chart lists the City Department responsible for maintaing plan updates.