Accounting System. The methods and records established to identify, assemble, analyze, classify, record and report a government’s transactions and to maintain accountability for the related assets and liabilities.
Accrual Basis. The recording of the financial effects on a government of transactions and other events and circumstances that have cash consequences for the government in the periods in which those transactions, events, and circumstances occur, rather than only in the periods in which cash is received or paid by the government.
Ad Valorem Tax. A tax based on value (e.g., a property tax).
Annual Budget. A budget applicable to a single fiscal year.
Appropriated Budget. The expenditure authority created by the appropriation bills or ordinances, which are signed into law, and the related estimated revenues. The appropriated budget would include all reserves, transfers, allocations, supplemental appropriations and other legally authorized legislative and executive changes.
Appropriation. A legal authorization granted by a legislative body to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes. An appropriation usually is limited in amount and time it may be expended.
Assessed Valuation. A valuation set upon real estate or other property by a government as a basis for levying taxes.
BARS. Budgeting, Accounting & Reporting System. Refers to the accounting rules established by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, including a prescribed chart of accounts.
Basis of Accounting. A term used in reference to when revenues, expenditures, expenses and transfers-and the related assets and liabilities-are recognized in the accounts and reported in the financial statements. Specifically, it relates to the timing of the measurements made, regardless of the nature of the measurement, on either the cash or the accrual method.
Benefits. Costs paid by the City on behalf of its employees. Examples include: medical and dental insurance, retirement, deferred compensation, life insurance and worker’s compensation.
Budget. A plan of financial operation embodying an estimate of proposed expenditures for a given period and the proposed means of financing them. Used without any modifier, the term usually indicates a financial plan for a single fiscal year.
Budget Document. The instrument used to present a comprehensive financial program to the appropriating governing body. The budget document usually consists of three parts. The first part contains a message from the budget-making authority, together with a summary of the proposed expenditures and the means of financing them. The second consists of schedules supporting the summary. These schedules show in detail the past years’ actual revenues, expenditures and other data used in making the estimates. The third part is composed of drafts of the appropriation, revenue and borrowing measures necessary to put the budget into effect.
Budget Message. A general discussion of the proposed budget as presented in writing by the budget-making authority to the legislative body. The budget message should contain an explanation of the principal budget items, an outline of the government’s actual financial experience during the past period and its financial status at the time of the message, and recommendations regarding the financial policy for the coming period.
Budgetary Control. The control or management of a government or enterprise in accordance with an approved budget to keep expenditures within the limitations of available appropriations and available revenues.
Capital Assets. Long-term assets, normally exceeding $1,000 in value and having a useful life of more than one or two years, such as major computer equipment, buildings, and land.
Capital Expenditures. Expenditures of current financial resources for constructing or purchasing capital assets. Under the modified accrual basis of accounting, these acquired assets appear as expenditures in the fund statements, however, under the current reporting model these acquired assets are recognized as assets in the basic financial statements
Capital Improvement Plan. A plan for capital expenditures to be incurred each year over a fixed period of years to meet capital needs arising from the long-term work program or other capital needs. It sets forth each project or other contemplated expenditure in which the government is to have a part and specifies the resources estimated to be available to finance the projected expenditures.
Capital Project Fund. A fund created to account for financial resources to be used for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities.
Debt. An obligation resulting from the borrowing of money or from the purchase of goods and services. Debts of governments include bonds, time warrants, and notes.
Debt Service Fund. A fund established to account for the accumulation of resources for, and the payment of, general long-term debt principal and interest.
Delinquent Taxes. Taxes remaining unpaid on and after the date to which a penalty for nonpayment is attached. Even though the penalty may be subsequently waived and a portion of the taxes may be abated or canceled, the unpaid balances continue to be delinquent taxes until abated, canceled, paid, or converted into tax liens.
Encumbrance. Commitments for unperformed contracts for goods or services.
Expenditures. Decreases in net financial resources. Expenditures include current operating expenses requiring the present or future use of net current assets, debt service, and capital outlays, and intergovernmental grants, entitlement, and shared revenues.
Fiscal Year. A 12 -month period to which the annual operating budget applies and at the end of which a government determines its financial position and the results of its operations.
Fixed Assets. Long-lived tangible assets obtained or controlled as a result of past transactions, events, or circumstances. Fixed assets include buildings, equipment, and improvements other than buildings and land.
Fund. A fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts in which cash and other financial resources, and related liabilities and residual equities, or balances, and changes therein, are recorded and segregated to carry on specific activities or attain certain objectives in accordance with special regulations, restrictions or limitations.
Fund Balance. The difference between fund assets and fund liabilities of governmental and similar trust funds.
General Fund. The fund used to account for all financial resources, except those required to be accounted for in another fund.
General Long Term Debt. Long-term debt expected to be repaid from governmental funds
General Obligation Bonds. Bonds issued the repayment of which the full faith and credit of the city is pledged.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Uniform minimum standards and guidelines for financial accounting and reporting. The primary authoritative body on the application of GAAP to state and local governments is the Government Accounting Standards Board.
Governmental Funds. Funds generally used to account for tax-supported activities. There are five different types of governmental funds, of which the city uses four of these. The general fund is the main operating fund of the city. The special revenue funds, are used to account for proceeds from specific sources to be used for legally restricted purposes, but normally not for major capital projects. The debt service fundsare for the accumulation of resources to pay principle and interest on the City’s general long-term debt. The capital project funds are used for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities.
Legal Level Of Budgetary Control. The level at which spending in excess of budgeted amounts would be a violation of law.
Level Of Budgetary Control. One of the three possible levels of budgetary control and authority to which organizations, programs, activities and functions may be subject. These levels of budgetary control are (a) appropriated budget, (b) legally authorized non-appropriated budget process or (c) non-budgeted financial activities, which are not subject to the appropriated budget and the appropriation process or to any legally authorized non-appropriated budget review and approval process, but still are relevant for sound financial management and oversight.
Levy. (1) (verb) To impose taxes, special assessments or service charges for the support of government activities. (2) (Noun) The total amount of taxes, special assessments or service charges imposed by a government.
Modified Accrual Basis. The basis of accounting associated with the governmental fund-type measurement focus. Under it, revenues and other financial resources are recognized when they become susceptible to accrual that is when they become both “measurable” and “available” to finance expenditures of the current period. Expenditures are recognized when the fund liability is incurred except for inventories of materials and supplies that may be considered expenditures either when purchased or when used. All governmental funds, expendable trust funds and agency funds are accounted for using the modified accrual basis of accounting.
Operating Budget. Plans of current expenditures and the proposed means of financing them. The annual operating budget is the primary means by which most of the financing, acquisition, spending and service delivery activities of a government are controlled. The use of annual operating budgets is usually required by law. Even when not required by law, however, annual operating budgets are essential to sound financial management and should be adopted by every government.
Operating Transfers. All interfund transfers other than residual equity transfers (e.g., legally authorized transfers from a fund receiving revenue to the fund through which the resources are to be expended).
Program Budget. A budget wherein expenditures are based primarily on programs of work and secondarily on character and object class.
Proprietary Fund Types. Sometimes referred to as income determination or commercial-type funds, the classification is used to account for a government’s ongoing organizations and activities that are similar to those often found in the private sector. The GAAP used are generally those applicable to similar businesses in the private sector and the measurement focus is on the determination of net income, financial position, and changes in financial position.
Revenues. (1) Increases in the net current assets of a governmental fund type from other than expenditure refunds and residual equity transfers. Also, general long-term debt proceeds and operating transfers in are classified as “other financing sources” rather than as revenues. (2) Increases in the net total assets of a proprietary fund type from other than expense refunds, capital contributions and residual equity transfers. Also, operating transfers in are classified separately from revenues.
Special Assessments. A compulsory levy made against certain properties to defray all or part of the cost of a specific capital improvement or service deemed to benefit primarily those properties.
Special Revenue Fund. A fund used to account for the proceeds of specific revenue sources (other than expendable trusts or major capital projects) that are legally restricted to expenditure for specified purposes. GAAP only require the use of special revenue funds when legally mandated.
Taxes. Compulsory charges levied by a government to finance services performed for the common benefit. This term does not include specific charges made against particular persons or property for current or permanent benefits, such as special assessments. Neither does the term include charges for services rendered only to those paying such charges (e.g., sewer service charges).
Tax Levy Ordinance. An ordinance through which taxes are levied.
Tax Rate. The amount of tax stated in terms of a unit of the tax base (e.g., specified amount per $1,000 of assessed valuation of taxable property).
Tax Rate Limit. The maximum rate at which a government may levy a tax. The limit may apply to taxes raised for a particular purpose or to taxes imposed for all purposes, and may apply to a single government or to a class of governments operating in a particular area. Overall tax-rate limits usually restrict levies for all purposes and of all governments, state and local, having jurisdiction in a given area.