City’s Budget Surplus: How Does it Compare?

City’s Budget Surplus: How Does it Compare?

The release of the City’s 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) shows a surplus of $37 million in the City’s general fund (see page 7 of this document).  The surplus appears in the general fund (the City has funds for general operations, debt service, community development, and capital projects) and is measured by taking total revenues (taxes, fines and forfeits, intergovernmental revenues, etc.) less total expenditures (general government, public safety, public works, etc. ) and other financing uses (specifically transferring to other funds) to get a result, called the “net change in fund balances”.  The same result is produced by taking the year end fund balance less the beginning year fund balance.

In 2016, the City collected $557.9 million in revenue, had $423.7 million in expenditure, and had $96.9 million in other financing uses for a result of $37.1 million ($557.9 – $423.7 – $96.9).

The opposite of a surplus might be called a shortage or a negative “net change in fund balances”: this last occurred in 2014 when the City had $485.4 million in revenue, spent $407 million, and used $110 million for other financing uses resulting in a negative $32.5 million.

In between the two, in 2015, the City had a surplus of $14.3 million.

Since entering Act 47/state oversight in 2004, the City has had a surplus in the general fund in all but four years: 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2014.  The biggest dollar total surplus was in 2006 when the result was $42.4 million, about $5 million above last year’s.  In 2006 (compared to 2005) total revenue had increased almost $20 million to $441 million, total expenditure fell $6 million to $315 million, and other financing uses rose $7 million to $84 million.