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Adopted Budget – The adopted operating and capital budget approved by the City Council. The budget becomes legal guidance to City management and departments for spending in that fiscal year. Before it is adopted, it is called the Proposed Budget. The proposed budget is usually presented to Council in mid- to -late-March. It is usually approved in late- to early-May.
Appropriation – An authorization made by the City Council that permits staff to spend money. Appropriations are usually made for fixed amounts and are granted for a one-year period.
Assessed Value – The fair market value placed upon real and personal property by the City as the basis for property taxes. In round, basic numbers: if a house is assessed at $400,000 and the tax rate is $1.30 per $100 of assessed value, the total real estate tax bill for the year will by $5,200. (Note that the City bills for the real estate tax in two installments, due in December and June.)
Balanced Budget – By law, local government budgets must be balanced, meaning expenditures may not exceed revenues, or staff cannot spend more than the revenues brought in.
Bond Ratings – A rating of quality given on any given bond offering as determined by an independent agency in the business of rating such offerings.
BPOL Tax – BPOL stands for “Business, Professional & Occupational License.” This item taxes the total revenues of a business.
Budget – A financial plan of financial including a revenue estimate.
CAFR – Stands for “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” The document represents a locality’s financial activities and includes the independent auditor’s reports on compliance with laws, regulations, and internal controls based on “Government Auditing Standards See the City’s CAFR here.
Capital Improvements Program (CIP) – A five-year plan of proposed capital expenditures for long-term improvements to City facilities including water, sewer, transit and schools; identifies each project and source of funding. To be included in the CIP a project must be estimated to cost more than $100,000 and have a useful life in excess of one year.
Capital Outlay – An appropriation or expenditure category for government assets with a value of $5,000 or more and a useful economic life of one year or more.
Carryforward (carryover) – Funds in the School Division budget unexpended in one year that are used as a funding source for the subsequent year. This is required by 6.18 of the City Charter.
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – Stands for “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” The document represents a locality’s financial activities and includes the independent auditor’s reports on compliance with laws, regulations, and internal controls based on “Government Auditing Standards See the City’s CAFR here.
Contingency – Money set aside in a budget for emergencies or unforeseen expenditures for which no other budget exists.
CY – Calendar year, from January 1 through December 31. The Fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.
Debt Per Capita – Total outstanding debt divided by the population of the City.
Debt Ratio – A measure used that determines the annual debt service or outstanding debt as a percentage of some other item which is generally an indication of the ability of the City to repay the debt; examples include annual debt service as a percentage of total annual expenditures and total outstanding debt as a percentage of total assessed value.
Debt Service – The payment of interest and principal to holders of the City’s debt instruments.
Enterprise Funds – Account for the financing of services to the general public whereby all or most of the operating expenses involved are recorded in the form of charges to users of such services. The enterprise funds consist of the Sewer Utility Fund and the Water Utility Fund.
Expenditure – The amount paid for goods or services.
Fiscal Year (FY) – The City’s Fiscal Year runs July 1 through June 30, as opposed to the calendar year running January 1 through December 31
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) – A measure of determining personnel staffing, computed by equating 2,080 hours of work per year with one full-time equivalent position.
Fund Balance – The excess of assets over its liabilities; also known as excess revenues over expenditures. A negative fund balance is sometimes called a deficit.
General Fund – Used to account for all general operating expenditures and revenues, this is the City’s largest fund. Revenues in the general fund primarily are from property taxes, sales tax, the business license tax and State aid.
General Obligation Bond – A bond for which the full faith and credit of the City is pledged for payment.
Infrastructure – Public systems and facilities, including water and sewer systems, roads, bridges, public transportation systems, schools and other utility systems.
Internal Service Charges – Charges to City departments for assigned vehicle repairs and maintenance provided by the motor pool division.
Median Household Income – Median denotes the middle value in a set of values, in this case, household income.
Modified Accrual Basis of Accounting – Basis of accounting according to which revenues are recognized in the accounting period in which they become available and measurable and expenditures are recognized in the accounting period in which the fund liability is incurred, if measurable, except for unmatured interest on general long-term debt and certain similar accrued obligations, which are recognized when due.
OPEB – Other Post Employment Benefits. These are benefits offered to retirees in addition to a retirement plan. The City offers retiree health insurance and life insurance.
Performance Measure – An indicator of the attainment of an objective; it is a specific quantitative measure of work performed or services provided within an activity or program, or it may be a quantitative measure of results obtained through a program or activity.
Personal Property Tax (PP) – A City tax levied on motor vehicles and boats based on published listings of values, and on machinery and tools based on a percentage of cost.
Proposed Budget – The operating and capital budgets submitted to the City Council by the City Manager. Once Council approves it, it is called the Approved Budget. The proposed budget is usually presented to Council in mid- to -late-March. It is usually approved in late- to early-May.
Real Estate Tax – A tax levied on property in the City -- land and improvements on the land (buildings).
Referendum – A measure voted on by the general public in an election; refers to a specific question posed on a ballot which is non-binding and used to provide guidance to the elected representatives.
Reserve – An account used to indicate that a portion of fund equity is legally restricted. Reserves may also be funded in a given year’s operation, either for contingencies for specific items, or for future expenditures.
Revenue – The income received by the City in support of a program of services to the community; includes such items as property taxes, fees, user charges, grants, fines and forfeitures, interest income and miscellaneous revenue.
Transient Occupancy or Lodging Tax – Tax on stays at hotels and motels of less than 30 days duration.
What is the budget?
The budget is the City’s financial plan for the coming year that identifies the revenues and expenditures to ensure that core local government services are delivered. These services include: police, fire protection, public schools, courts, trash and recycling, health and family services, storm water, sewer, library, road maintenance and snow removal, recreation and parks, building inspections, just to name a few. The budget includes both operating (the daily expenses of operations) and capital (infrastructure items with a longer useful life cycle).
How is the budget developed?
The City’s budget process starts in the fall when the Chief Financial Officer presents preliminary revenue and expenditure trends and projections to the City Council and School Board. The Council develops and adopts the annual budget guidance for the City Manager, and over the winter months City staff work with the City Manager to develop the proposed budget. The School Superintendent develops the proposed school budget and presents it to the School Board in January. In March, the City Manager presents a proposed budget to the City Council, which includes general government expenditures, and by the City Charter, must incorporate the full funding request by the School Board. The City budget,
including revenue projections, City expenditures, School expenditures, and Capital Improvements Program is reviewed by the City Council and revised as necessary after a series of town hall and work session meetings, and adopted in late April.
What is the City’s fiscal year?
For the City of Falls Church, the fiscal year (FY) is July 1 to June 30. For example, FY2022 runs July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The fiscal year is referred to by the year in which it ends -- in the above example, the shorthand is FY2022.
What is the General Fund? School Transfer? Enterprise Fund?
The General Fund is one of several accounts that form the City’s budget. The General Fund contains all revenue and expenses related to the City’s core services, including expenses for debts issued. The two big components of the General Fund are Schools (see School transfer, below) and General Government, which includes police, recreation and parks, human services, library, development services, public works, finance and administration.
The School Transfer is comprised of the local tax dollars that fund 82% of the Falls Church City Schools and is part of the General Fund.
Enterprise Funds are the separate, self-sustaining funds for storm water and sanitary sewer operations that are fully funded by user fees.
How Can I Have a voice in the budget deliberations?
The budget process is designed to gather the input necessary to ensure that it reflects the values and priorities of the City’s citizens and taxpayers. You have the opportunity to weigh in on the level of city services and the tax rates that you expect by speaking at Council public hearings and town hall meetings or by sending emails to Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) and email@example.com.
An easy way to find up to date information about the budget and public meeting dates is on the City website, www.fallschurchva.gov/Budget.