The paradigm of ethics is a trademark of every sector of business. It is a train of thought that characterizes every discipline and profession. Ethics is duly integrated and isolated into different capacities and field. There are several divergent yet interconnected definitions of ‘ethics’, but in the case of public finance, ethics would be defined as moral philosophies or system of moral principles that affect decision-making for the good of the public (Menson 1990, p.97). In budgetary allocation, ethics play an important role. Faced with fiscal crisis like the City of Kelsey, ethics need be applied in budgeting. This paper examines the budgeting situation that faces the mayor’s office, appropriateness of allocating funds to the Police Department or to the Stately Park Project with the huge constrain of the budgetary crisis.
Ethics dictate that public offices mean serious business in dispensation of services to meet the functions of the government. It is not the duty of government to generate profit but to equitably distribute resources and guard the rights of its citizens (Menson 1990, p.96). It has been argued that since the government’s duty to fairly distribute rights is a main course duty, the decisions should be primarily guided by this than sensitized by the economic rationales. Therefore, the decision should be influenced more by the direct benefit of the public than by economic welfares whatsoever.
Moral judgement is another ethical consideration in decision making in this case. Kohlberg’s justice-based theory of moral judgement indicates that moral
judgment addresses the strategies individuals use in determining justice or fairness (Dawson, 2002). Primarily, an individual expects to achieve justice by maintaining rules and standards (Reck 2000, p. 341). The law establishes equality, norm and moral order, which definitely concern the local government. Therefore, in decision making by the budget officials, thorough and insightful consideration and deliberation of the cruciality of the two need to be made. Acute moral judgement of the individuals would not mislead the budgeting process.
In addition to these, political ideology in Kelsey City is a factor to be considered in budgeting (Menson 1990, p.102). Mythologies and ideologies created in the minds through media coverage concerning he financial crisis are likely to gender political stands. This should be considered in every decision toward service delivery by the budget officials. If the public would be repulsive in the least following inconsideration, great loss would be inevitable. In this, views of the public should be regarded to ascertain general orientation. Therefore, it is necessary that information of the social ethics of the citizens be established before deciding on the fund allocation as the fiscal crisis holds. For example, the conservative would most likely favor security over the park project.
The other crucial part that ethics will play in deciding the allocation is on the budget officials. Aside from honesty and discretion, other specific moral attributes would influence the decision. Ethical budgeting demands decency (Menson 1990, p.107)., and in this every official is required to view the public as the clients and have them as sole consideration in the process of budgeting. The mayor, as a stakeholder, has full and direct responsibility to deliver to the public (Reck 2000, p. 347). Above all, there should not be conflicts of interest among budget officials – selfish ambition would gender wrong decision made. This necessitates the application of moral principles that govern self to fit public service delivery.
In conclusion, having considered the influence of ethics in the evaluation of the Stanley Park Project when competing with the Police department for funds during the financial crisis, the budget officials and the mayor now have a clearer understanding and guidance enough to be able to decide on the direction to focus their minds. In consideration of these ethical policies, the decision made would be viable enough to set the City forward beyond the fiscal and the budgetary crisis.
Dawson, T. L. (2002). New tools, new insights: Kohlberg’s moral judgement stages revisited. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26(2), 154-166.
Menson, T. P. (1990). Ethics and state budgeting. Public Budgeting & Finance, 10(1), 95-108.
Reck, J. L. (2000). Ethics and budget allocation decisions of municipal budget officers. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(4), 335-350.