One of the most important parts of the SimCity series is the budget screen. It's not necessarily fun trying to make the books balance, but you can't build anything if you don't have any money to spend.
In SimCity, the budget screen is relatively simple. At the top of the screen is the tax rate, which the player can adjust. Below is the amount of income being made from taxes. A lower tax rate will attract people to your city, but you'll have less money to work with.
The next section is the spending section. The transit, police, and fire departments each have a requested budget. Players can adjust the funding level of each. Police and fire department effectiveness is tied to their funding. Roads and rails will deteriorate if transit funding is too low.
Finally, there's the summary. It'll list the player's previous funds, the cash flow based on the previous sections, and the new total. Finally, there's the "Go With These Figures" buttons that applies those changes.
The Super Nintendo version included the AutoBudget option. Players could let the computer control the budget for them.
If there is insufficient funds to cover the budget, roads take the highest priority, followed by fire departments, and police stations. The fire and police stations scale directly to the amount of funds they receive, and the rate of decay for roads is based directly on the lack of funding for transportation. However, funding can be set as low as 94% without penalty, and rounding only gives 32 effective decay rates instead of being a fully linear scale.
The Budget in SimCity 2000 was more complex. The budget, once again, was divided into departments, but the years income or expenses are shown on the left with next years projected income and expense on the right. At the bottom, the year's income, expenses, and current funds are added together to come up with the final figure.
Along with the layout, there are also two new features. A book next to each option allows players to adjust things even more precisely. Speech bubbles next to the department's book lets the player speak with their advisor on that subject.
The income area had been expanded. Along with property taxes, there was also city ordinances, and bonds. Players can adjust set different tax rates for different zones, enact certain city ordinances, and either take out or repay bonds.
The expenses area is similarly expanded. Education and health & welfare are represented as well as police, fire, and transit. The books is most of these just show the budget over time. However, education lets you adjust the budget of schools and colleges separately. Transit lets you adjust the budgets for rail, roads, highways, subways, bridges, and tunnels individually.
SimCity 3000 mostly keeps the same budget layout as 2000, but divides it into two windows: income and expenses. The buttons to adjust the budget are on the left side of the window instead of the right. The option to meet with your financial advisor is also available.
At the top are three departments that appear in both windows because they could potentially be either an expense or a source of income. These are ordinances, neighbor deals, and loans.
Exclusive to the expenditures section are education, public health, fire, roads, police, and mass transit. These have all been simplified, returning to a single slider. The ability to subdivide the budget had been removed.
New to the income window is transit fares and disaster relief. Taxes also make a return. However, each zone gets its own slider.
SimCity 4 put the budget back in a single window. Gone is the option to speak with advisors from the budget. Also, everything is displayed on a single column.
On the income side of this game are taxes for each type of zone, city ordinances, business deals, neighbor deals, and the transportation department.
On the expenses side of things are transportation department, public safety department, health & education, utilities, city ordinances, neighbor deals, city beautification, government budget, and take out a loan. The ability to subdivide budgets is replaced with the option to adjust the budgets of individual buildings.
Your income is money you get paid each month.
Taxes are where the player/mayor gets the most money from. Raise them too high and you might become unpopular.
Residential tax is income from homeowners, these include:
- Low Wealth Residential ($)
- Medium Wealth Residential ($$)
- High Wealth Residential ($$$)
Commercial tax is income from commerce and businesses, these include:
- Low Wealth Commercial Service ($)
- Medium Wealth Commercial Service ($$)
- High Wealth Commercial Service ($$$)
- Medium Wealth Commercial Office ($$)
- High Wealth Commercial Office ($$$)
Industrial tax is income from farms and factories, these include:
- Dirty Industry
- Manufacturing Industry
- High Tech Industry
Your expenses is money you pay each month.
Public Safety Department
- Fire Department
- Police Department
- Department of Corrections
Health and Education
- School Bus Funding
- Ambulance Funding
City Beautification Department
- Sports Areas (baseball courts, stadiums, etc.)
- City Hall
- Mayor's House
Any labeled in bold are rewards.
- Coal Power Plant
- Natural Gas Plant
- Oil Plant
- Hydrogen Plant
- Wind Power Plant
- Solar Power Plant
- Water Tower
- Water Treatment Plant
- Water Pumps
- Recycling Center
- Landfill Zone
- Waste to Energy Plant