The Village of Ossining, NY

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Budget Glossary

Accounting System:   The total set of records and procedures which are used to record, classify and report information on the financial status and operations of an entity.


Accrual Basis of Accounting:   The basis of accounting under which revenues are recorded when earned and expenditures (expenses) are recorded as soon as they result in liabilities for benefits received, notwithstanding that the receipt of revenue or the payment of the expenditure may take place, in whole or in part, in another accounting period.  All flows of resources (and thus all Changes in Net Assets) during the year are recorded, regardless of whether they involve cash flowing in or out of the Village government.


Activity:   A specific and distinguishable service provided by the Village government.


Actuarial:   The statistical calculation of risks, premiums, etc. for insurance purposes.


Amortization:   The gradual reduction of a financial commitment according to a specified schedule of times and amounts.


Appropriated Surplus:   The portion of accumulated fund balance (fund equity) that is available and authorized for expenditure in the current year (ensuing year’s budget).


Appropriation:   The legal authorization granted by the Village Board which permits officials to incur obligations against, and to make expenditures of, governmental resources. 


Assessed Valuation:   A valuation set upon real estate or other property by the Village as a basis for levying taxes.


Assessment Roll:   The official list containing the legal description of each parcel of property and its assessed valuation.


Assets:   Resources or property owned or controlled by a government, as a result of a past transaction or other event, that have recognizable monetary value.


Basis of Accounting:   The decision rule a government employs to determine when to record the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures/ expenses specified by the relevant measurement focus.  Two principal bases used by governments are accrual (see Accrual Basis of Accounting, above) and modified accrual (see Modified Accrual Basis of Accounting, below).


Bond:   A written promise to pay (debt) a specified sum of money (called principal or face value) at a specified date or dates in the future (called the maturity date[s]), along with periodic interest paid at paid at a specified percentage of the principal (interest rate).


Bond Anticipation Note:   Short-term interest-bearing notes issued by a government in anticipation of bonds to be issued at a later date.  The notes are retired from the proceeds of the bond issue to which they are related, or are redeemed from budgetary appropriations.


Bonds Authorized and Unissued:   Bonds which have been authorized by the Village Board but not issued, and which can be issued and sold without further authorization.


Budget:   A financial work plan embodying an estimate of proposed expenditures for a given period and the proposed means of financing them.


Budget Document:   The official written statement prepared by the Budget Officer and supporting staff which presents the proposed budget to the Village Board.  Also refers to the final budget as adopted by the Village Board.


Capital Assets:   Assets of significant value and having a useful life of several years.  Capital assets are also called fixed assets.


Capital Expenditures:   Expenditures which result in the acquisition of, or addition or improvements to, Village facilities.


Capital Program (Capital Budget):   A plan developed by the Village Board for capital expenditures to be incurred each year over a determined period of future years, identifying each project, the amount to be expended in each year, and the proposed method of financing those expenditures.


Capital Projects:   Projects which purchase or construct capital assets.  Typically, a capital project encompasses a purchase or land, the construction of a building or facility, and/or the purchase of vehicles and large equipment.


Certiorari:   A judicial proceeding to review an assessment of real property.


“CHIPS”:   The New York State Consolidated Highway Improvement Program.  A New York State local aid capital program designed to improve the physical condition of local streets and bridges.


Compensated Absences:   The value of unused vacation, sick and other leave time for which employees will be paid when they retire or otherwise cease to work for a government.


Debt:   An obligation resulting from the borrowing of money.  The Village’s debt generally includes bonds and bond anticipation notes.


Debt Limit:   The maximum amount of debt which is legally permitted.  In New York State the Constitutional debt limit is 7% of the average of the full valuation of assessable property within the Village for the past five years.


Debt Service:   The amount of money required to pay annual principal and interest on outstanding debt.


Debt Service Fund:   A government fund to account for the payment of principal and interest on long term debt incurred in connection with all funds (General, Water and Sewer Funds).


Deficit:   The excess of the Village’s liabilities over its assets (see Fund Balance, below).  Also, refers to the excess of expenditures over revenues during a single accounting period.


Department:   An operational unit of Village government.


Depreciation:   The expiration in the service life of fixed assets (buildings, machinery, equipment, etc.) attributable to normal wear and tear.  The portion of the cost of the expiration in the service life of a capital asset is charged as an expense during a particular accounting period in the Statement of Net Assets. 


Employee Benefits:   A category of expenditures which includes the Village’s share of social security, retirement, workers’ compensation, health and various types of insurance for employees’ benefit.


Encumbrances:   Amounts committed to pay for goods and services a government contracted for but did not yet receive.  Encumbrances outstanding at year-end are reported as reservations of fund balances and do not constitute expenditures or liabilities because the commitment will be honored during the subsequent year.

   The outflow of cash, a promise to pay, or other financial resources in return for goods and services that have been received.


Expenses:   Decreases in Net Assets resulting from the using up or outflow of assets in the course of operating a government and providing goods and services.


Fiscal Year:   A twelve-month period to which the annual operating budget applies.  For the Village of Ossining, the fiscal year runs from January 1 through December 31.


Fringe Benefits:   Non-salary compensation for employees, such as pension contributions and health and life insurance premiums.


Full Faith and Credit:   A pledge of the general taxing power of a government to repay debt obligations (typically used in reference to bonds).


Full Valuation:   The valuation of assessable property within the Village which is calculated by applying a State Equalization Rate for the purpose of “equalizing” assessment practices statewide (or countywide).  Full valuation is the basis of computing the Village’s debt and taxing limits.


Function:   Identifies a group of related activities aimed at accomplishing a major service or regulatory program for which a government is responsible.  For example, Public Safety, Home and Community Services, or General Government Support.  In the Village budget, these functions are referred to as “Divisions”.


Fund:   An independent fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts recording cash and/or other resources together with related liabilities, obligations, reserves and equities which are segregated for the purpose of carrying on specific activities or attaining certain objectives.


Fund Balance (Fund Equity):   The excess of a fund’s assets over its liabilities.  Governmental funds are, in essence, accounting segregations of financial resources.  Expendable assets are assigned to various governmental funds according to the purpose for which they may or must be used.  Current liabilities are assigned to the fund from which they are to be paid.  The difference between governmental fund assets and liabilities is referred to as fund balance or fund equity.  A negative fund balance is sometimes called a deficit. 


GASB 34:   A set of substantial revisions, approved by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in June 1999, to the accounting model that state and local governments follow when reporting their finances to the public; the full title is “Basic Financial Statements - and Management’s Discussion and Analysis - for State and Local Governments.”


General Obligation Bonds:   Bonds for the payment of which the full faith and credit of the Village are pledged.


General Fund:   The General Fund constitutes the primary operating fund of the Village and accounts for all activities not required by law to be accounted for in other funds.


Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB):   The GASB was organized in 1984 as an independent, professional body (by the Financial Accounting Foundation) to establish standards of financial accounting and reporting for state and local governmental entities.  Its standards guide the preparation of external financial reports of those entities.  The Foundation is responsible for selecting the members of the GASB and its Advisory Council, funding their activities, and exercising general oversight (except with regard to the GASB’s resolution of technical issues).


Government Finance Officers Association:   A national professional association that the Village of Ossining is a participant.  The GFOA distinguished budget award presentation is an attainable goal set by the majority of municipalities in the United States.


Governmental Funds:   Funds used to account for all or most of the Village’s general activities and services, including the acquisition or construction of capital assets and the servicing of general long-term debt.


Grants:   A contribution of assets (usually cash) by one governmental unit or other organization to another.  Typically, these contributions are made to local governments from the State and Federal governments.  Grants are usually made for specified purposes.


Interest:   The cost of borrowing money; it is typically a percentage of principal.


Interfund Transfer:   The transfer of moneys from one fund to another.  Recorded as either Interfund Transfers-In (revenue) and Interfund Transfers-Out (expenditure).


Liabilities:   The amount a government owes.  Includes items such as: accounts payable; accrued liabilities; amounts due NYS or other local governments;  bonded indebtedness outstanding;  compensated absences.


Long-Term Debt:   Debt with a maturity of more than one year.


Materials and Supplies:   A category of expenditures which includes goods or services that are consumed in achieving cost center objectives.


Maturities:   The dates on which the principal or stated values of investments or debt obligations mature and may be reclaimed.


Measurement Focus:   The definition of the kinds of transactions and other events a government should consider when accounting for and reporting its finances. 


Modified Accrual Basis of Accounting:   The basis a government uses to account for its government funds;  it records expenditures rather than expenses, and requires that payment of revenues be received during the year or soon enough thereafter to be used to liquidate the current year’s liabilities.


Modified Budget:   The budget that reflects all legal changes made to the original budget subsequent to the start of the year (even those that occur after the end of the year)


Mortgage Tax Receipts:   A municipality’s local share of mortgage transactions that occur within its jurisdiction.


Object of Expenditure:   Identifies the nature of articles to be purchased or the service obtained in order to carry out a function.  The basic objects are Personal (Personnel) Services, Equipment and Other Capital Outlay, Depreciation Expense (reflected in entity-wide statements), Contractual Expenditures, Principal and Interest on Debt, Employee Benefits, and Interfund Transfers.  In the Village budget, these objects are referred to as “Groups”.


Ordinance:  A formal legislative enactment having the full force and effect of law.


Original Budget:   The first legally adopted budget for a given year, including any legal adjustments made to it subsequent to adoption but prior to the start of the year.


Other Financial Sources:   A category of revenues which includes operating (interfund) transfers-in, appropriated reserves and appropriated fund balance.


Other Financial Uses:   A category of expenditures which includes operating (interfund) transfers-out and the reserve for contingency.


Principal:   The original amount borrowed via a mortgage, bonds, notes, or other debt instrument; or original amounts invested by a government.


Pro Forma:   For form’s sake.  Used to denote a sample statement which may either be wholly or partially hypothetical, actual facts, estimates, or proposals.


Resolution:   An order of the Village Board requiring less legal formality than an ordinance.


Revenues:   Increases in Net Assets connected with growth in assets as a result, directly or indirectly, of providing goods and services.  The term designates an increase to a fund’s assets which: does not increase a liability;  does not represent a repayment of an expenditure already made;  does not represent a cancellation of certain liabilities;  and, does not represent an increase in contributed capital.


Revenue Estimate:   A formal estimate of how much revenue will be earned from a specific revenue source for some future period;  typically, a future fiscal year.


Salaries and Wages:   A category of expenditures which includes the compensation paid to all full-time, part-time or seasonal employees.  This category also includes payments for overtime, longevity, unused vacation and sick leave.


Serial Bonds:  A bond that is retired by annual installments directly from appropriations.  Payments are made in installments each year bonds are outstanding.


Solvency:   Capable of meeting obligations.


Source:   Used to describe the origin of revenues.  In the Village budget, these sources are referred to as “Divisions”.


Special Assessment:   A compulsory levy made against certain properties to defray part or all of the cost of a specific improvement or service deemed primarily to benefit those properties.


Special Revenue Funds:   Used to account for the proceeds of specific revenue sources, other than expendable trusts and capital projects, that are legally restricted to expenditures for specific purposes.


Tax Levy:   The total amount to be raised by general real property taxes.


Tax Limit:   The maximum rate at which the Village may levy a tax.  In New York State, the Constitutional taxing limit is 2% of the average of the full valuation of assessable property within the Village for the past five years.


Tax Rate:   The amount of real property taxes levied for each $1000 of assessed valuation.


Transactions:   Events in which something of value is exchanged between a government and another party external to the government.


User Charges:   The payment of a fee for direct receipt of a public service by the party benefiting from the service.




- updated December 2008



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