Key Budget Terms

Adopted Budget
A one-year spending and financing plan covering the period July 1 through June 30, adopted by resolution of the Board of Supervisors no later than October 2nd.  The budget is adopted, and all appropriations established, after a hearing in which changes may be made to the Approved Budget. 

Allocated Costs
Central costs for services/obligations/infrastructure that are charged out to County departments based on varying criteria.  Allocated costs include internal services or overhead costs, such as insurance, facility maintenance, debt service, fleet management, central information technology, central finance and accounting and central budget administration. 

Appropriation or Budget Appropriation
A legal limit on how much can be spent annually by each budget unit and object of expenditure.  In adopting the budget the Board of Supervisors approves an appropriation level for each budget unit and object of expenditure.

Approved or Approved Recommended Budget
Prior to June 30th, the Board of Supervisors considers the County Executive’s Recommended Budget, makes any revisions, reductions or additions and approves the Recommended Budget as revised.  This becomes the Approved or Approved Recommended Budget and provides interim spending authority until a budget is adopted, no later than October 2nd.

Base Budget
The cost in the budget year for each budget unit’s current staffing level and programs.  That is the amount needed to fund current staffing and programs, adjusted only for increases or decreases in the cost of doing business.  This is also referred to as a “no-growth” budget. 

Budget Unit
A portion of the budget that includes a program, service or group of programs or services that have an overall appropriation level.  Budget units are often departments and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but not all budget units are departments and the budgets for some departments are contained in multiple budget units.

Departmental Revenue
Revenue received by County departments or programs that are legally required to be spent on certain programs.  This is distinguished from discretionary revenue that is accounted for in the General Fund’s Non-departmental Revenue budget unit and can be spent on any programs or services based on Board priorities.  Departmental revenue includes Semi-discretionary revenue (Proposition 172 and Realignment revenue) that the Board of Supervisors can allocate within certain fairly broad parameters.  Most departmental revenue comes from the State and federal governments and fees and charges for services.  In the budget document, revenue shown in all budget units except the General Fund’s Non-departmental Revenue budget unit is departmental revenue.

Discretionary Resources
Resources that are not legally restricted for certain uses and can be allocated based on Board priorities.  This generally includes discretionary revenue (like property taxes) and the General Fund’s available fund balance.

Discretionary or General Purpose Revenue
Revenue from property tax, sales tax and certain other sources that is not legally restricted for particular uses.  This is revenue that the Board of Supervisors can allocate as it wishes to fund local priorities.  Discretionary revenue is accounted for in the Non-departmental Revenue budget unit in the General Fund.  Staff in the County Executive Office estimates the amount of discretionary revenue that will be available annually.

Fiscal Year
The 12 month period for which a budget provides spending authority.  For Sacramento County the fiscal year is from July 1st through June 30th. 

A fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts recording resources, liabilities and balances, and expenditures and revenues which are segregated for the purpose of carrying out specific activities.  A fund is made up of one or more budget units.  There are a number of different types of funds, for example: Governmental funds, like the General Fund and special revenue funds that are supported by taxes, grants and similar sources; and proprietary funds, that include both enterprise funds (that are funded by fees and charges to outside entities), like water utilities and airports, and internal services funds (that are funded by charges to other County departments), like Information Technology.

Fund Balance
Fund resources that are not spent in a prior year carry over into the next fiscal year as fund balance.  In simple terms, fund balance is the difference between total actual financing sources and total actual expenditures at the close of the fiscal year.  Fund balance is classified as either “obligated” or “available.”  Obligated fund balance either is legally restricted or has been reserved by the Board of Supervisors for a particular purpose.  Available fund balance is a resource that can be used along with revenue to cover the cost of appropriations.

General Fund
The County’s main operating fund.  The General Fund is used to account for all of the County’s financial resources, except those required to be accounted for in another fund.  All discretionary resources are accounted for in the General Fund, as are the budgets for most operating departments.

Growth or Growth Request
Requested or approved funding for a department that involves additional staff, programs or service levels.  This is distinguished from the base budget that included current staffing levels and programs, adjusted only to reflect higher or lower costs for those programs (due to cost of living increases, for example).

Net County Cost
Department or budget unit appropriations in the General Fund, less all available departmental revenues.  Net County Cost is the amount of discretionary resources allocated to a department or program.  This is also referred to as the General Fund allocation.

Objects or Objects of Expenditure
Appropriation or expenditure categories.  Within each budget unit, appropriations are broken down into objects and, in some cases, sub-objects.  Objects include:

  • Salaries and Employee Benefits
  • Services and Supplies
  • Other Charges
  • Capital Assets
  • Other Financing Uses
  • Intrafund​ Transfers
  • Transfers-Out

Recommended Budget
The County Executive’s recommended appropriation (expenditure), revenue and Net County Cost level for each budget unit. County Executive Office staff review and analyze budget requests from departments and estimates the amount of discretionary resources that will be available. Based on that, the County Executive presents a recommended balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors prior to the start of the new fiscal year.  

Reimbursements are used to reimburse expenditures initially made by a budget unit that are applicable to another budget unit within certain government funding.

Requested Budget
Expenditure, revenue and Net County Cost levels for each budget unit as requested by the County’s departments.  Departments submit their budget requests to the County Executive Office for review.

Also known as a "rainy day fund," a reserve is an amount in a fund to meet cash requirements, ​emergency expenditures or future defined requirements. A reserve is not an appropriation, and there is no limitation on the amount of reserve that can be established.

Semi-discretionary Revenue
A component of departmental revenue that includes Proposition 172 and Realignment revenue.  There are restrictions on what this money can be spent on, but, within fairly broad restrictions, the Board has the authority to allocate this revenue among different programs.  Proposition 172 revenue comes from a statewide half cent sales tax and must be used to fund public safety programs.  Realignment revenue comes from statewide sales tax and vehicle license fee revenue and must be used to fund certain mental health, public health, social services and public safety programs.