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November 1984

December 1984

General Membership Meeting and Budget Workshop
President's Message (Dorothy Lum)
Voter Information on City Charter Amendments (Marty McGurk)
Offices up for Election
Membership Update: Welcome New Members
How Do League's New Positions Plug into the National Action? (Dottie Gullicksen)
Calendar for November
Anne Lee Featured
People Deserve the Government they Get! (Barbara Marumoto)
People 'n Pix
Budget-Making in City Government


Budget-Making in City Government

Most governments get their money from taxes, fees, permits, fines, sale of bonds and notes, and from federal and state aid. To keep these revenues separate, they are segregated into funds. There are several categories of funds. Without going into detail, this is how they are usually arranged:

THE GENERAL FUND is by far the most important one for citizens to review, because it is the one fund without some strings attached. Into it go all revenues not predestined for a specific purpose - dollars that can be used for anything that is legally permitted by the government.

SPECIAL REVENUE FUNDS generally contain monies earmarked for some specific purpose - bus fares, motor vehicle weight and gas tax, utility franchise tax (to highway fund), for example. Many federal grants are also put into this type of fund.

DEBT SERVICE FUNDS contain money restricted solely to paying interest and principal on debts contracted by issuing bonds or notes.

CAPITAL PROJECTS FUNDS generally include a separate fund for the proceeds from each bond issue for a capital improvement.

ENTERPRISE FUNDS contain utility revenues, airport revenues and other revenues from self-supporting operations. Some of these funds have large amounts in them, and they are often the largest funds in the government.

TRUST AND AGENCY FUNDS tend to be very technical and limited and are usually of no great significance, except from an accounting standpoint. How-ever, a good many people have recently been taking a special interest in tracing what happens to one kind of trust fund money - that which is coming to Iocal and state governments from federal revenue sharing.

What does all this mean? It means that a substantial amount of most governments' operations, except for those paid for out of the General Fund, is controlled more by revenues that by need. It also means that in municipal accounting there has to be this phenomenon called fund accounting, separating money by source so that it can't be intermingled and will be spent only for its destined purpose.

On the negative side, using fund accounting means that a city or state government cannot easily find in one place total revenues or total expenditures - and neither can the concerned citizen.

In budget-making certain expenditures must be met.

DEBT SERVICE has to be paid or the government's credit will be ruined. PAYROLL must be met.

UTILITY COSTS have to be paid.


INCREMENTAL INCREASES due to such things as inflation, expanded services are also a part of the almost automatic side of budget-making.

This information is adapted from THE BUDGET PROCESS FROM THE BUREAUCRAT'S SIDE OF THE DESK, a League of Women Voters Education Fund publication, 1974.

BRING THIS WITH YOU TO THE BUDGET WORKSHOP< & GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING - Saturday, November 17 from 9-11 A.M., at 2345 Nuuanu Avenue - Call Dorothy Marsh at 941-2868 for your reservation!

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