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Every year the City Commission adopts a Budget for the next fiscal year (the City's fiscal year runs from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the next year). The Budget is the City's business and financial plan for the year.
The Budget has two purposes. The purposes are (1) to set goals, objectives, and service levels for the City to meet during the next year, insuring the provision of City services to Newport residents, and (2) to estimate and allocate the money the City will take in and spend during the year.
Revenue can fluctuate substantially within a given year or from year to year. There are very few sources of income over which the City has direct control. For example, the City has no control over property tax revenue; it can fluctuate depending on the number of homes sold in the community and the amount of building activity. The level of building activity also impacts other sources of revenue such as building permit fees. The City's largest amount of tax revenue is generated from the payroll at local businesses. These are revenues that have a somewhat direct relationship with the general state of our economy, or, in the case of occupational fees, the number of good paying jobs available in the community.
The City has a little more certainty and control over how much money is spent, but even that has some impacts and restrictions that reduce flexibility. The federal government and state government dictates additional expenses, such as Medicare contributions and required methods of compensating for overtime mandated by federal law. In addition, the City does not, in most cases, have the ability to stop doing things simply because it lacks the income. Police and fire protection are good examples. Even if revenue decreases substantially, the City still needs to staff fire stations and provide a minimum level of police patrol services.
It is important to remember that the numbers in the budget are estimates. Many things happen during the year that impact our income and spending. Revenues are estimated realistically to insure that there are adequate funds to meet needs. The City works to maintain adequate reserves to protect from future unknowns.
The City's Budget is financed by the use of different "funds." A fund can be thought of as a separate bank account used for specific purposes. These funds can be views independently through the OpenGov site.
The General Fund is the City's main operating fund used to pay for traditional City services such as police and fire protection, administration, and street maintenance. These activities utilize most tax dollars, such as property tax and occupational/ gross receipt fees, but are also supported by licenses and permits, user fees, and investment earnings. Some activities in the General Fund, such as building inspection or photo copying, are intended to be substantially self-supporting through fees for services provided and charged to individuals or businesses.
Another major group of City funds are called Enterprise Funds, used to account for specific services funded directly by fees and charges to users. In Newport, these funds are represented by the refuse and Newport on the Levee (garage) funds. The intent is that the funds be completely self- supporting and not be subsidized by general revenue or taxes. These funds are accounted for as if each activity were a separate, independent non-profit business of the City.
The City also maintains a Capital Projects Fund used to fund capital improvements. A capital improvement is usually a large construction project such as reconstruction of a roadway, the development of parkland, or the construction of a building.
Finally, the City maintains Debt Service, Special Revenue, Internal Service and Fiduciary Funds.
City accounts are organized and operated on the basis of funds and account groups. A fund is an independent fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts. Governmental fund financial statements are reported using the current financial resources measurement focus and modified accrual basis of accounting,
Fund accounting segregates funds according to the intended purpose and is used to aid management in demonstrating compliance with finance-related legal and contractual provisions.
The City maintains a minimum number of funds consistent with legal and managerial requirements. Account groups are a reporting device to account for certain assets and liabilities of governmental funds not recorded directly in those funds. Major funds are designated; all funds are described.