The process of developing budgets depends on the availability and training of staff as well as the data processing capability of the county. In developing budgets, the operating department heads, the legislative body, and other elected officials should determine the information needed to make a reasonable decision in approving an operating budget. What problems and questions should be addressed in considering the budget? Although there are different approaches in developing budgets, as well as different types of budgets (zero basis, performance, etc), the budget type used by nearly all the local governments in Tennessee is the line-item budget. In developing a line-item budget, counties utilize an object code approach.

A budget lists each revenue account and expenditure by department or activity with line items under each for salaries, employee benefits, contracted services, supplies and materials, capital outlay, and other operating expenses. (The term “line item” is often used when preparing and discussing budgeting. Line items are not to be confused with “object codes”.  Line items should be used synonymously with “function”.)