Financial Term Glossary

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Capital (Includes Debt Service):

The Town’s capital improvements program policies call for the allocation of approximately 5% of the general fund revenues to the capital budget. This is exclusive of dedicated funding sources such as enterprise funds, grants, and Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion projects.
Cherry Sheet: Cherry-colored form showing state and county charges and reimbursement to the Town as certified by the State Director of Accounts.

Enterprise Funds: 

Funds that account for all revenues and expenditures for services and allow surpluses to be used to reduce user fees for the services or to pay for capital improvements.  Each fund has an independent budget.  Losses are made up from the Town’s general fund.  Presently, Arlington has enterprise funds for Council on Aging Transportation, Recreation, Veterans’ Memorial Rink, Water & Sewer, and Youth Services.

Fiscal Year:

July 1 through June 30.

Free Cash:

“Free Cash” is a revenue source that results from the calculation, as of July 1, of a community’s remaining, unrestricted funds from operations of the previous fiscal year, based on the balance sheet as of June 30. It typically includes actual receipts in excess of revenue estimates and unspent amounts in departmental budget line-items for the year just ending, plus unexpended free cash from the previous year.

Local Receipts:

Local receipts are revenue generated at the local level from a variety of sources other than property taxes. Some of the most common local receipts are excise taxes; regulatory fees (fines, licenses, and permits); user fees (charges for water, sewer and garbage services); departmental revenues, and investment income. Local receipts are paid into the community's general fund unless earmarked for a specific departmental use in compliance with state statute.

Minuteman School:

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law, the Town funds an annual assessment that offsets the cost of funding Minuteman School, the Town’s regional vocational school. The annual assessment is based on enrollment. Arlington’s three year average enrollment is 128 students.

Municipal Departments:

Select Board, Town Manager, Human Resources, Comptroller, Treasurer, Postage, Assessors, Information Technology, Legal, Town Clerk, Parking, Planning & Community Development, Public Works, Police, Fire, Support Services, Inspectional Services, Libraries, Health and Human Services, Board of Health, Veterans’ Services, Council on Aging, Enterprise Funds (Water / Sewer, Recreation, Veteran’s Memorial Rink, Council on Aging Transportation, Youth Services), and Other Related Boards (Board of Registrars, Redevelopment Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals)  

MWRA Debt Shift:

The Town has accepted provisions of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 110 whereby water and sewer debt costs are transferred to the tax levy. Per vote of the Select Board, the MWRA Debt Shift has been fixed at $5,593,112 since FY2007.

Non-Appropriated Expenses:

Expenses which are contained on the cherry sheet from the state and charged to the Town, the largest of which is the annual MBTA assessment. Other non-appropriated expenses include; parking fine registry surcharge, air pollution control district, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and Charter School Tuition.  Other non-appropriated expenses include cherry sheet offsets which include state aid to be received from the state in the form of grant funds for schools and libraries.  Overlay reserve is also included in Non-Appropriated Expenses.

Non-Departmental (Healthcare & Pensions):

The Town’s non-departmental liabilities, includes health insurance and retirement costs for employees and retirees
Overlay Reserve: Unused accumulated amount of overlay for previous years that is not required to be held in a specific overlay account for a given year. Once released by the Board of Assessors, the funds may be used for any municipal purpose.

Override Stabilization Fund Deposit:

The Override Stabilization Fund was created as a result of the 2005 Proposition 2 1/2 override. The Town makes annual appropriations to the fund until the time in which it is necessary to make withdrawals for the purposes of balancing the general fund budget.

Property Tax:

The property tax levy is the revenue a city or town raises through real and personal property taxes.

Reserve Fund:

A fund established by the Annual Town Meeting.  It is under control of the Finance Committee, which may authorize transfers for extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures.  The fund may be composed of an appropriation of not more than 5% of the tax levy for the preceding year.

School Department:

The Town’s largest departmental budget. Funds appropriated to the school department offset the costs of personnel, operating school department facilities, transportation, and other expenses necessary for providing public education in the district.

Stabilization Fund:

A special account created to provide a reserve for municipal expenditures.

State Aid:

The state aid portion of local revenues is aid allocated by the state directly to cities and towns. This aid is distributed through the Cherry Sheet programs. School Construction Aid is state aid specifically appropriated for school construction.
Surplus Revenue: The total amount of cash, accounts receivable, and other current assets that exceed liabilities and reserves.

Warrant Articles:

Money must be appropriated in the general fund budget for the purposes of funding spending articles approved by Town Meeting.