OpenGov & City Budget FAQs Answered Here
OpenGov provides instant access to voluminous budget data, interactive choice of graphs, and a filtering tool to break down aggregated information.
However, knowing the fundamentals of municipal budgeting and accounting is key to using this tool effectively.
- Filters are listed in order of detail. The broadest filter categories are expense and revenue, under “Show”. These can be further broken down by type, under “Broken Down By”. If you only use these 2 filters, it will present the selected financial data for the City as a whole.
Using the “Filtered By” filters will parse this data into specific funds, departments and type
of expense or revenue.
- There are five different types of visual representations of the data - an area graph, an area graph by percentage, a line graph, a pie chart and a table. You can change your view at any time by simply selecting the different type of representation. The data will automatically convert.
- The data presented in OpenGov can be exported in tabular or image format. It can also be shared via Social Media. If there are additional questions, use the Help button for more information.
What is Government Fund Accounting?
Whereas business accounting provides accounting for profit and loss in one main account, government fund accounting separates the accounting process by activity. General government funds (like the General Fund) are accounted for separately from business-like activities (like the Water and Wastewater operations). There are also other accounts that are accounted for differently – Internal Service Funds (like Information Technology and Equipment Maintenance), Agency Funds (for pensions and other post-employment benefits), and Permanent Funds (such as those used for endowments). The main difference between private sector accounting principles and government fund accounting is simple: government fund accounting emphasizes accountability rather than profitability.
Each fund (General Fund, Water Fund, etc.) is separated according to the specific purpose or activity it supports in accordance with laws and regulations. For example, the Water Fund has a specific revenue source (rate payers), and a specific purpose for those revenues. As such, the fund is restricted by law in its expenditures against those revenues (they must be for carrying out Water operations). In this way, government fund accounting makes it easier to identify which monies are available for which purpose. Funds can be distributed among different departments and their divisions. Here is a partial listing of departments and their divisions:
- Municipal Utilities and Engineering: Water, Sewer Service, Public Works Engineering
- Quality of Life: Solid Waste, Streets, Parks, Airport, Cemetery, Building Maintenance, Electrical
- Police Department: Field Services, Communications, Animal Control, Support Services
- Fire Department: Fire Prevention, Fire Training, Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical Services
- Management Services / Finance Department: Finance, Utility Billing, Revenue, Information Technology
- Human Resources: Risk Management, Safety Program, Worker’s Compensation
Some expenditures or revenues do not track year to year. For example, there may be expenditure for a specific item or project in FY 2013 that the City no longer uses. These expenditure categories will only be visible for the years they were used. After that, they will be zeroed out.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click these links to answer some frequently asked questions (results will open in a new tab or window):
- How does the City divide up the general fund among City Departments?
- How much does the City spend on Capital Expenditures (for improvements or new assets)?
- What are the actual expenditures for the General Fund?
- What revenue sources contribute to the City’s General Fund?
- How much does the City spend on salaries for all departments across all funds?
- How much does the City spend on the operation of its parks?
- How much does the City spend on public safety?
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