At least one Utah County municipality spends more than $1,200 just to print the plans for how much money they will spend in the coming year.
There is no way to calculate all the hours put into preparing city budget documents. But Kay Driggs, budget finance director for Pleasant Grove, estimates it "takes up to 90 percent of my time between the first of February to when we get it done at the end of June."Pleasant Grove makes 10 copies of its budget proposal four to five times during the budget process.
The big spender in the budget book process is Provo, which spends about $14 per copy for 25 copies of its tentative budget proposal and almost $24 each for copies of its final package.
"We put in 100 hours at the most on the document," Provo Budget Director Keith Haslam said. When all the preliminary documents, department copies and final copies are finished, Provo will spend $1,200 on printing alone.
"We are much less paper intensive since we started using computers," Haslam said.
The heavyweight champion is Springville. Weighing in at almost four pounds, Springville's document is the George Foreman of Utah County budgets. Springville uses about 6.5 reams of paper for just the first 10 copies of its complete budget proposal.
The proposal is 326 pages, or 15/8 inches, thick What makes Springville's budget document so thick? It's copied on one side of the page.
"We have found that when we make changes with a preliminary budget it is easier to replace just one page than it is to replace two," said Richard Manning, Springville city recorder.
For the future, Manning is looking at recycled paper.
"We do take covers from proposals sent to us throughout the year and reuse them - if they don't have a company logo on them," he said.
In contrast, Orem's tentative budget package is only 220 pages, weighs one pound, 9.35 ounces and is 3/4-inch deep.
Orem's budget book may be smaller than some but it's not cheap: The document is printed on bonded paper.
The county featherweight is Spanish Fork, which already uses recycled paper and expects to spend only about $50 to produce its entire package of 20 copies, 85 pages each. Mary-Clare Maslyn, administrative assistant, spent most of the past year on her computer changing the format for the proposal.
"Next year will be a lot quicker," she said. "It would take even less time if the copy machine worked right."
Despite the expense and time, city officials consider budget proposals to be worth the hassle.
"The only way the City Council can make any judgment is if they have all the information," Driggs said. "They may or may not use it, but they want it."