Budget Glossary and Acronyms

Here are some of the key terms and acronyms used in the budget for the County of Fairfax. Click on the first letter of the word, acronym or phrase you are seeking, or scroll to browse the whole list.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


Account – A separate financial reporting unit.  All budgetary transactions are recorded in accounts.

Accounting Period – A period of time (e.g., one month, one year) where the County determines its financial position and results of operations.

Accrual– Accrual accounting/budgeting refers to a method of accounting/budgeting in which revenues are recorded when earned and outlays are recorded when goods are received or services are performed, even though the actual receipts and disbursements of cash may occur, in whole or in part, in a different fiscal period. 

Accrual Basis of Accounting – A method of accounting where revenues are recorded when service is given and expenses are recognized when the benefit is received.   In Fairfax County, governmental and agency funds are accounted for on a modified accrual basis of accounting in which revenue is considered available and recorded if it is collectible within the current period or within 45 days thereafter, to be used to pay liabilities of the current period. Expenditures are generally recorded when the related fund liability is incurred, with the exception of certain liabilities recorded in the General Long-Term Obligations Account Group.

Activity – A specific and distinguishable line of work performed within a program; the most basic component of service delivery for each County agency and its budget.

Actual - Monies that have already been used or received; different from budgeted monies, which are estimates of funds to be spent or received.

Actuarial – A methodology that makes determinations of required contributions to achieve future funding levels by addressing risk and time.

Adopted Budget Plan - A plan of financial operations approved by the Board of Supervisors highlighting major changes made to the County Executive's Advertised Budget Plan by the Board of Supervisors.  The Adopted Budget Plan reflects approved tax rates and estimates of revenues, expenditures, transfers, agency goals, objectives and performance data.  Sections are included to show major budgetary/financial policies and guidelines used in the fiscal management of the County.

Ad Valorem Tax – A tax levied on the assessed value of real estate and personal property.  This tax is also known as property tax.

Advanced Life Support - The rapid intervention of advanced emergency medical services such as cardiac monitoring, starting IV fluids, giving medication, manual defibrillation, and the process of using advance airway adjuncts.

ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act

ADC – Adult Detention Center

ADHC – Adult Day Health Care

Adopted Budget Plan – A plan of financial operations approved by the Board of Supervisors highlighting major changes made to the County Executive's Advertised Budget Plan by the Board of Supervisors.  The Adopted Budget Plan reflects approved tax rates and estimates of revenues, expenditures, transfers, agency goals, objectives and performance data.  Sections are included to show major budgetary/financial policies and guidelines used in the fiscal management of the County.

Advertised Budget Plan – A plan of financial operations submitted by the County Executive to the Board of Supervisors.  This plan reflects estimated revenues, expenditures and transfers, as well as agency goals, objectives and performance data.  In addition, sections are included to show major budgetary/financial policies and guidelines used in the fiscal management of the County. 

AED – Automatic External Defibrillator

AEOC – Alternate Emergency Operations Center

AFIS – A multi-jurisdictional Automated Fingerprint Identification System

Affordability - The extent to which a service or product can be paid for without the client having to sacrifice basic needs.

Affordable Housing - Housing is generally considered affordable when the cost of rent/mortgage does not exceed 30-35 percent of the annual gross household income. 

Allocation - A dedication of governmental resources, with appropriated amounts, to a specific project or activity.  Allocations move monies to a specific agency or fund.  Budget Entry documents are used in the case of a temporary allocation in advance of pending approval of funding as part of a quarterly process.  Some funds, such as Non-Appropriated Housing funds may approve allocations out-of-cycle.

ALS – Advanced Life Support

American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) - This Act, (Pub.L. 111–5), commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, was an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.

Amortization – The reduction of debt through regular payments of principal and interest sufficient to retire the debt instrument at a predetermined date known as maturity.

Annual Required Contribution (ARC) - The actuarially determined amount of employer funding required to support pension or OPEB costs.  The ARC is composed of the normal cost, which is the cost of benefits earned in the current year, and the amortization of the unfunded liability for benefits earned in prior years.

Appropriation – A specific amount of money authorized by the Board of Supervisors to a specified unit of the County government to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes.  Appropriation authorizations expire at the end of the fiscal year.

Appropriation Controls – A specific amount of money authorized by the Board of Supervisors to a specified unit of the County government to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes.  Spending is generally controlled either at the bottom line of appropriation categories such as Personnel Services, Operating Expenses, Recovered Costs (Work Performed for Others), or Capital Equipment (for operating agencies) or the bottom-line of a project budget, e.g., for capital construction funds or grant budget.  In addition, agencies cannot transfer funds from one fund to another fund without authorization from the Board of Supervisors.  Agencies cannot adjust their bottom-line budget expenditures without authorization from the Board of Supervisors.  Typically, the Board of Supervisors approves agency bottom-line expenditure adjustments during the next budget review cycle, i.e., Third Quarter or Carryover.  With adequate justification and DMB approval, agencies can perform a budget transfer of funds from one category to another, e.g., from Personnel Services to Operating Expenses, as long as there is no change to the agency’s bottom-line budget and the budget transfer must occur within the same agency and/or fund.

Appropriated Fund – Funds budgeted and authorized by the Board of Supervisors for County agencies and funds to incur liabilities for the acquisition of goods and services.  These funds, which include revenues derived from governmental sources, require annual appropriation by the Board of Supervisors for legal spending authority by agencies.

Arbitrage –   With respect to the issuance of municipal securities, arbitrage usually refers to the difference between the interest paid on the tax-exempt securities and the interest earned by investing the security proceeds in higher yielding taxable securities.  Internal Revenue Service regulations govern arbitrage on the proceeds from issuance of governmental securities.

Area Median Income (AMI) - A measure of the amount of income for a specific geographical area where one-half of that area's population earns more than the AMI and the other half of the population earns less than AMI.

ASAP – Alcohol Safety Action Program (Fund 117)

ASSB – Advisory Social Services Board

Assessed Property Value – The estimated actual value set upon real estate or other taxable property by the County Property Appraiser (Department of Tax Administration) as a basis for levying real estate tax.  Real property is assessed as of January 1 each year at the estimated fair market value of all land and improvements, with the resulting taxes being payable in the subsequent fiscal year.  Real estate taxes are due in equal installments, on July 28 and December 5. Unpaid taxes automatically constitute liens on real property which must be satisfied prior to sale or transfer, and after three years, foreclosure proceedings can be initiated.

Assessed Value - A value set on real and other property as a basis for levying taxes.

Assessment – The official valuation of property for purposes of taxation.

Assessment Ratio – The ratio of the assessed value of a taxed item to the market value of that item.  In Fairfax County, real estate is assessed at 100 percent of market value as of January 1 each year.

Assets - Resources owned or held by a government which have monetary value.  Assets may be tangible or intangible and are expressed in terms of cost or some other value.  Assets are probable future economic benefits obtained or controlled by the government as a result past transactions or events.

Audit Adjustment - This is an adjustment for an expenditure or revenue collection which has not been included in the Carryover Actuals, but has been deemed by the auditors to have occurred in the previous fiscal year.  When an audit adjustment occurs, the Actual expenditures or revenues are either increased or decreased, resulting in a change to the actual Ending Balance and the Revised Beginning Balance.  In addition, an audit adjustment can sometimes affect the revised budget plan for the following fiscal year.

Auditor of Public Accounts – A state agency that oversees accounting, financial reporting and audit requirements for the units of local government in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Authorized but Unissued Bonds - Bonds authorized by the Board of Supervisors following a referendum, but not issued to the bond markets.  Bonds approved after July 1, 1991 have a maximum of 10 years available by law in which to be issued.

Average Household Size - The average number of persons residing within a household in a particular area. It is computed by dividing the total population in households (excluding group quarters such as correctional facilities, nursing homes and college dormitories) by the total number of occupied housing units in that area.


Balanced Budget – A budget is balanced when projected total funds available equal total disbursements, including established reserves.  All local governments in the Commonwealth of Virginia must adopt a balanced budget as a requirement of state law no later than by July 1.

Base Budget - Cost of continuing the existing levels of service in the current budget cycle.

Basic Life Support (BLS) - The level of medical care which is used for victims of life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be given full medical care at a hospital. It can be provided by trained medical personnel, including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and by laypersons who have received BLS training. BLS is generally used in the pre-hospital setting, and can be provided without medical equipment.

Basis Point – Equal to 1/100 of one percent.  For example, if interest rates rise from 6.50 percent to 6.75 percent, the difference is referred to as an increase of 25 basis points.

Beginning Balance – Unexpended funds from the previous fiscal year that may be used to make payments during the current fiscal year.

Benchmarking – The systematic comparison of performance with other jurisdictions in order to discover best practices that will enhance performance.  Benchmarking involves determining the quality of products, services and practices by measuring critical factors (e.g., how effective, how much a product or service costs) and comparing the results to those of highly regarded competitors.

Benefits - Expenditures related to employee benefits that are funded through employee and employer payroll deductions, like health insurance, retirement, and social security costs.

Best Practice - Program or service that is the most effective technique to reach an intended outcome when applied to a particular condition or circumstance. Best practices are generally documented as evidence-based by national organizations' review of research.

Birmingham Green – A multi-jurisdictional entity that operates an assisted living facility and a nursing home for the care of indigent adults who are unable to live independently.

Bond – A written promise to pay a specified sum of money (called the principal), at a specified date in the future, together with periodic interest at a specified rate.  In the budget document, these payments are identified as debt service.  Bonds may be used as an alternative to tax receipts to secure revenue for long-term capital improvements.  The two major categories are General Obligation Bonds (G.O. Bonds) and Revenue Bonds.  The majority of bonds issued for County and School construction projects are known as General Obligation Bonds. 

Board of Supervisors - The Code of Virginia (§ 15.2-802) provides that the powers of the county as a body politic and corporate shall be vested in an urban county board of supervisors, to consist of one member from each district of such county and to be known as the board of supervisors (the board). Each member shall be a qualified voter of his or her district and shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof. In addition to the above board members, the voters shall elect a county chairman who shall be a qualified voter of the county. The Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County is composed of ten members, one from each of the nine County magisterial districts, plus a chairman. Supervisors are elected for four-year terms.

Bond Covenants – A legally enforceable promise made to the bondholders from the issuer, generally in relation to the source of repayment funding.

Bond Proceeds – The money paid to the issuer by the purchaser or underwriter of a new issue of municipal securities.  These moneys are used to finance the project or purpose for which the securities were issued and to pay certain costs of issuance as may be provided in the bond contract.

Bond Rating – A rating (made by an established bond rating company) from a schedule of grades indicating the probability of timely repayment of principal and interest on bonds issued.  Fairfax County uses the services of the nation’s three primary bond rating services – Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch – to perform credit analyses to determine the probability of an issuer of debt defaulting partially or fully.  Fairfax County has maintained a Triple A bond rating status from Moody’s since 1975, Standard and Poor’s since 1978, and Fitch since 1997.

Bond Referendum – A process whereby the voters of a governmental unit are given the opportunity to approve or disapprove a proposed issue of municipal securities.  An election is most commonly required in connection with General Obligation Bonds.  Requirements for voter approval may be imposed by constitution, statute or local ordinance.

Bonds – A certificate of debt issued by an entity, guaranteeing payment of the original investment, plus interest, by a specified future date.  Bonds are instruments used to borrow money for the debt financing of long-term capital improvements.

BPOL – See Business, Professional and Occupational License

BPR – See Business Process Redesign

Budget – A plan for the acquisition and allocation of resources to accomplish specified purposes.  The term may be used to describe special purpose fiscal plans or parts of a fiscal plan, such as "the budget of the Police Department," "the Capital Budget," or "the School Board's budget," or it may relate to a fiscal plan for an entire jurisdiction, such as "the budget of Fairfax County."

Budget Calendar – A schedule of key dates which the County follows in the preparation, adoption and administration of the budget.

Budget Message – Included in the Overview Volume, also referred to as the County Executive Summary, the budget message provides a summary of the most important aspects of the budget, changes from previous fiscal years, and recommendations regarding the County’s financial policy for the upcoming period.

Budget Process Redesign – An ongoing effort to improve both the budget development process and the budget document. 

Budget Transfers – Budget transfers shift previously budgeted funds from one item of expenditure to another.  Transfers may occur throughout the course of the fiscal year as needed for County government operations.

Build-Out – This refers to the time in the life cycle of the County when no incorporated property remains undeveloped.  All construction from this point forward is renovation, retrofitting or land cleared through the demolition of existing structures.

Business Process Redesign – A methodology that seeks to improve customer service by focusing on redesigning current processes, and possibly incorporating automation-based productivity improvements.  Redesign efforts require an Information Strategy Plan (ISP) which identifies and prioritizes the business areas to be redesigned.  New or enhanced business system applications (BSAs) are usually required to improve the flow of information across organizational boundaries.

Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) –  Businesses, professions, trades and occupations are assessed a license tax based on gross receipts for the prior year, without deductions. Exclusions are deductions from the definition of gross receipts.  Section 4-7.2-1(B) of the Fairfax County Code and Chapter 37 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia lists the only deductions that can be claimed.  Individuals engaged in home occupations and who are self-employed must also file if their gross receipts are greater than $10,000. Receipts of venture capital or other investment funds are excluded from taxation except commissions and fees.


CAD – Computer Aided Dispatch

CAFR – See Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

CCAR – See Child Care Assistance and Referral program

CCFAC – Consolidated Community Funding Advisory Committee

CCFP – See Consolidated Community Funding Pool

Calendar Year – Twelve months beginning January 1 and ending December 31.

Capital Asset - Property that has an initial useful life longer than one year and that is of significant value. The useful life of most capital assets extends well beyond one year and includes land, infrastructure, buildings, renovations to buildings that increase their value, equipment, vehicles, and other tangible and intangible assets.

Capital Budget -This is a budget for major capital items, including land, buildings, structures, and equipment.

Capital Equipment – Equipment such as vehicles, furniture, technical instruments, etc., which have a life expectancy of more than one year and a value of over $5,000.  Equipment with a value of less than $5,000 is operating equipment.

Capital Expenditure – A direct expenditure that results in or contributes to the acquisition or construction of major capital assets (e.g., lands, roads, buildings).  The expenditure may be for new construction, addition, replacement or renovations to buildings that increase their value, or major alteration of a capital asset.  Capital assets include land, infrastructure, buildings, equipment, vehicles and other tangible and intangible assets that have useful lives longer than one year.

Capital Facilities – Fixed assets, such as buildings or land.

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) – A five-year plan for public facilities which addresses the construction or acquisition of fixed assets, primarily buildings but also including parks, sewers, sidewalks, etc., and major items of capital equipment and operating expenses related to new facilities.  The funding for these capital projects comes from appropriations and earmarked revenues and bond sales.

Capital Outlay - Expenditures for capital-related expenditures.

Capital Paydown – Capital construction funded with current year General Fund revenues as opposed to construction financed through the issuance of bonds.  This is also referred to as “pay-as-you-go” construction.

Capital Project – An item for which the purchase, construction, or other acquisition will represent a public betterment to the community and add to the total physical worth of the County provided that the project considered meets the criteria for total cost and life expectancy. Examples of capital projects are land, buildings and certain major pieces of equipment of a fixed nature.Major construction, acquisition, or renovation activities which add value to a government’s physical assets or significantly increase their useful life.

Capital Project Expenditure - An expenditure that acquires, expands, repairs, or rehabilitates a physical asset with a useful life of at least three years. It does not include day-to-day maintenance expenditures such as custodial or janitorial services, painting, minor carpentry, electrical and plumbing repairs, or repair/routine replacement of fixtures or furniture.

Capital Renewal – Capital renewal is the planned replacement of building subsystems such as roofs, electrical systems, HVAC systems and plumbing systems that have reached the end of their useful life. Major capital renewal investments are required in facilities to replace old, obsolete building subsystems that have reached the end of their life cycle.

Capital Projects Funds – Funds, defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts, that account for the acquisition and/or construction of major capital facilities or capital improvements other than sewers.

Carryover – The process by which certain unspent or unencumbered funds for appropriations previously approved by the Board of Supervisors and for commitments to pay for goods and services at the end of one fiscal year are reappropriated in the next fiscal year.  Typically, funds carried over are nonrecurring expenditures, such as capital projects or capital equipment items.

Cash Management – An effort to manage cash flows in such a way that interest and penalties paid are minimized and interest earned is maximized.

Cash Management System – A system of financial practices which ensures that sufficient cash is available on a daily basis for payment of County obligations when due.

CCAR - See Child Care Assistance and Referral Program

CDBG – Community Development Block Grant

CERF – Computer Equipment Replacement Fund

CERT – Community Emergency Response Team

Character – A class of expenditures, such as salaries, operating expenses, recovered costs, or capital equipment.

Chart of Accounts - A list of expenditure, revenue, and other accounts describing and categorizing financial transactions.

Child Care Assistance and Referral Program - The CCAR program provides financial assistance for child care to families with low to moderate income who are working, or who are in education/training programs and need assistance with paying for the cost of child care. The program pays for child care in center-based and family child care programs.  CCAR provides information about County child care programs and supports families in choosing care.

Children's Services Act (CSA) – The Children's Services Act (CSA), formerly known as the Comprehensive Services Act, provides both community-and facility-based services to at-risk children and their families. Services offered through CSA are driven by federal and state mandates in foster care and special education. County agencies and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) work collaboratively to design service plans meeting the unique needs of families with children and youth who have, or are at-risk of having, serious emotional or behavioral difficulties.

CHINS – Child In Need of Supervision or Services

CIP – See Capital Improvement Program

Class – A group of positions which are sufficiently alike in general duties and responsibilities to warrant the use of the same title, specification and pay range.

Classification – The grouping of positions in regards to: 

kinds of duties performed and responsibilities;

  • level of duties performed;
  • requirements as to education, knowledge and experience and ability;
  • tests of fitness; and ranges of pay.

Class Series – A number of classes of positions which are substantially similar as to the types of work involved and differ only in rank as determined by the level of the duties and degree of responsibility involved and the amount of training and experience required.

Class Specification – A written description of a class consisting of a class title, a general statement of the level of work, a statement of the distinguishing features of work, some examples of work, and the minimum qualifications for the class.

Client - A person or group of people that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. or who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc.

Client Cost for Service - The direct cost, as charged to the client, of receiving a service.

COG – Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - A general purpose federal grant primarily used by the City to facilitate the production and preservation of low and moderate income housing.

Compensation - Expenditures related to employee pay.

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – This official annual report, prepared by the Department of Finance, presents the status of the County’s finances in a standardized format.  The CAFR is organized by fund and contains two basic types of information: (1) a balance sheet that compares assets with liabilities and fund balance, and (2) an operating statement that compares revenues and expenditures.

Comprehensive Plan – The plan that guides and implements coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious land development that best promotes the health, safety, and general welfare of County residents.  It contains long-range recommendations for land use, transportation systems, community services, historic resources, environmental resources, and other facilities, services, and resources.

Congregate Meals – Meals served by the Area Agency on Aging’s Nutrition Program to senior citizens who eat together at the County’s senior centers.

Consolidated Community Funding Pool – A separately-budgeted pool of County funding, located in Fund 118, which was established in FY 1998 to facilitate the implementation of a competitive funding process through which community-based organizations, which are primarily human-services oriented, will be awarded County funding on a competitive basis.  These organizations previously had received County funding either as a contribution or through contracts with specific County agencies.  Since FY 2001, the County has awarded grants from this pool on a two-year funding cycle to provide increased stability for the community-based organizations.

Consolidated Plan – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a Consolidated Plan application which combines the planning and application submission processes for several HUD programs: Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Shelter Grant, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.  Citizen participation is required as part of the process and is accomplished through representation on the Consolidated Plan Review Committee (CPRC), involvement in public hearings held on housing and community development needs, and participation in public hearings at which the Board of Supervisors takes action on the allocation of funds as recommended by the CPRC.

Constant or Real Dollars -The presentation of dollar amounts adjusted for inflation to reflect the real purchasing power of money as compared to a certain point in time in the past.

Consumer Price Index – CPI is a measure of the price level of a fixed “market basket” of goods and services relative to the value of that same basket in a designated base period.  Measures for two population groups are currently published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI-U and CPI-W.  CPI-U is based on a market basket determined by expenditure patterns of all urban households including professionals, self-employed, the poor, the unemployed, retired persons, and urban wage-earners and clerical workers.  The   CPI-W represents expenditure patterns of only urban wage-earner and clerical-worker families including sales workers, craft workers, service workers, and laborers.  The CPI is used as appropriate to adjust for inflation.

Contingency – An appropriation of funds available to cover unforeseen events that occur during the fiscal year.

Contractual Services - Services rendered to a government by private firms, individuals, or other governmental agencies. Examples include utilities, rent, maintenance agreements, and professional consulting services.

Contributory Agencies – Governmental and nongovernmental organizations that are supported in part by contributions from the County.  Examples include the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and the Arts Council of Fairfax County, and community agencies such as Volunteer Fairfax.

Cost Center – Expenditure categories within a program area that relate to specific organizational goals or objectives.  Each cost center may consist of an entire agency or a part of an agency.  The Civil Service Commission, for example, being small and having a single purpose, is treated as a single cost center.  The Office of the County Executive consists of four cost centers: Administration of County Policy, Office of Equity Programs, Office of Internal Audit, and Office of Partnerships.

Costs of Issuance – The expenses associated with the sale of a new issue of municipal securities, including such items as printing, legal and rating agency fees, and others.

CPAN – Courts Public Access Network

CPI – See Consumer Price Index

CRA – Clinic Room Aide

CRIS – Community Resident Information Services (kiosks used by Fairfax County)

Cross-Cutting Initiative – A cross-cutting initiative involves the participation of two or more government agencies in addressing a challenge or implementing a program in Fairfax County.  For example, there is a coordinated effort to address the challenge of West Nile Virus control by several agencies including the Health Department, the Park Authority, the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, the Office of Public Affairs, and others.

CSA – Comprehensive Services Act

CSB – Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board

CSU – Court Service Unit (Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court)

CTB – Commonwealth Transportation Board



Dashboard - Beginning with the FY 2014 Advertised Budget Plan, each General Fund and General Fund Supported agency budget narrative features a high-level dashboard of approximately six key drivers and metrics.

Debt Limit – The maximum amount of debt which an issuer of municipal securities is permitted to incur under constitutional, statutory or charter provisions.

Debt Service – The amount of money necessary to pay interest on an outstanding debt; the principal of maturing serial bonds and the required contributions to a sinking fund for term bonds.  Debt service on bonds may be calculated on a calendar year, fiscal year, or bond fiscal year basis.

Debt Service Funds – Funds defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts to finance and account for the payment of principal and interest on borrowed funds such as bonds.  Fairfax County has three debt service funds, one for school debt, one for the Wastewater Management Program, and one for bonds issued to finance capital expenditures for all other agencies (County debt service).  These funds receive revenue primarily by transfers from the General Fund, except for the Sewer Debt Service Fund, which is supported by sewer service fees.

Defeasance – A provision that voids a bond when the borrower sets aside cash or bonds sufficient to service the borrower’s debt.  When a bond issue is defeased, the borrower sets aside cash to pay off the bonds; therefore, the outstanding debt and cash offset each other on the balance sheet and do not need to be recorded.

Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) – A provision within a defined benefit retirement system that allows an employee who reaches retirement eligibility to agree to defer leaving employment until a specified date in the future, on the condition of being deemed to have retired for purposes of the retirement system. The employee continues to receive a salary and fringe benefits; however, contributions on the employees’ behalf to the retirement system cease, while the payments the employee would receive if he/she was retired are invested and provided when the employee reaches the agreed upon date (no more than three years).

Deficit – The excess of liabilities over assets – or expenditures over revenues – in a fund over an accounting period.

Defined Benefit Pension Plan - A pension plan having terms that specify the amount of pension benefits to be provided at a future date or after a certain period of time.  The amount specified usually is a function of one or more factors such as age, years of service, and compensation.

Department – All office, divisions and other work units, which are under the control of a single department head. Example: Community Services Board (CSB).

Depreciation – The decrease in value of physical assets due to use and the passage of time.  In financial terms, it refers to the process of allocating the cost of a capital asset to the periods during which the asset is used.

Devolution - It is the transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by federal or state government to a local or regional government.

Dillon Rule - Fairfax County operates under the urban county executive form of government, an optional form of Virginia county government, and like other Virginia local governments, Fairfax County has limited powers.  This doctrine of limited authority for local governments is commonly called the Dillon Rule, a name that is derived from the writings of a judge and law professor named John Forrest Dillon (1831-1914).  The Dillon Rule is used in interpreting law when there is a question of whether or not a local government has a certain power. The Dillon Rule narrowly defines the power of local governments.  Virginia courts have concluded that local governments in Virginia have only has those powers that are specifically conferred on them by the Virginia General Assembly.  Fairfax County has limited powers in areas such as raising revenue, and it cannot take certain actions without appropriate action from the state, which limits revenue diversification options among other things.

Direct Costs - These are capital costs that can be traced easily to a specific project, activity, or product. Examples of such costs include the contract price, preliminary engineering studies, surveys, legal fees to establish title, installation costs, freight, and materials used in the construction or installation of the asset. 

Direct Expense - This refers to an expense that is specifically associated with a service, program, or department and, thus, is clearly identifiable with a particular function.

Disbursement – An expenditure or a transfer of funds to another accounting entity within the County financial system.  Total disbursements equal the sum of expenditures and transfers out to other funds.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Program – A voluntary program administered by the Government Finance Officers Association to encourage governments to publish efficiently organized and easily readable budget documents.

Diversion First - Fairfax County community and government leaders have launched an effort, called Diversion First, to reduce the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting nonviolent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment rather than bringing them to jail.  The Diversion First team includes county and state leaders, judges and magistrates, public defender and commonwealth's attorney, mental health advocates and consumers, and public safety chiefs and staff. 

DPWES – Department of Public Works and Environmental Services

DROP – See Deferred Retirement Option Plan


EAC – See Employees Advisory Council

EAP – Employee Assistance Program

Economic Success Plan - Fairfax County's strategic plan for economic success focuses on high-level policy recommendations to help the county to expand and diversify the economy.  The Board of Supervisors approved this plan on March 3, 2015.  This economic roadmap was created by the 50-member, board-appointed Economic Advisory Commission, along with county staff. The group broadly sought input to craft the plan, obtaining feedback from more than 250 participants. Stakeholder representation was inclusive of various members of the community, including business, community, and civic leaders, local chambers of commerce, area colleges and universities, and local residents.  The strategy focuses on high-level policy recommendations to help the county to expand and diversify the economy, and it focuses on six goals:

  • Further diversifying our economy
  • Creating places where people want to be
  • Improving the speed,  consistency, and  predictability of the  county’s development  review process
  • Investing in natural and physical  infrastructure
  • Achieving economic  success through education and social equity
  • Increasing the agility of county government

Effectiveness - Term used by auditors to describe the degree to which an entity, program, or procedure is successful at achieving its goals and objectives.

Efficiency -Term used by auditors to describe the degree to which an entity, program, or procedure is successful at achieving its goals and objectives with the least use of resources.  In addition, efficiency is also one of the four performance indicators in Fairfax County’s Family of Performance Measures.  This indicator reflects inputs used per unit of output and is typically expressed in terms of cost per unit or productivity.

Eligibility - The conditions and requirements established by a service provider for clients to access specific services.

Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) - This is a federally funded program which plays an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System (NPS) by supporting the building, sustainment, and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal (the Goal) of a secure and resilient Nation. The purpose of EMPG is to provide federal funds to assist State, local, territorial, and tribal governments in preparing for all hazards.

Employees Advisory Council – Established by the Fairfax County Merit System Ordinance to provide a continuing medium through which all employees in the competitive service, both Schools and County, may contribute their advice and suggestions for the improvement of the career merit system and other aspects of the government of Fairfax County.

Employer Contributions - Term used in the context of pension benefits and OPEB to describe actual payments made by the County as compared to the County’s annual required contribution (ARC).  Only amounts paid to trustees and outside parties qualify as contributions.

EMS – Emergency Medical Service

Encumbrance - An obligation incurred in the form of purchase orders, contracts and similar items that will become payable when the goods are delivered or the services rendered.  An encumbrance is an obligation of funding for an anticipated expenditure prior to actual payment for an item.  It is an accounting reservation of funds representing a legal commitment to pay for future goods and services. Funds are usually reserved or set aside and encumbered once a contracted obligation has been entered.  Encumbrances must be spent on specific items and are not available for any other expenses.

ENSNI – Estimate, No Scope, No Inflation.  Term used in the Fairfax County CIP to describe funding estimates for future capital projects which have not yet been scoped and are developed using today’s dollars without considering inflation.

Enterprise Funds – Funds, defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts to account for operations that are financed and operated in a manner similar to private business enterprises.  An enterprise fund is a self-supporting fund design to account for activities supported by user charges.  For example, funds which support the Wastewater Management Program are classified as enterprise funds.

EOC – Emergency Operations Center

Equalization – An annual assessment of real estate to ensure that assessments accurately reflect current market values.  Equalization revenue is the annual increase or decrease in collected revenue resulting from adjustments to the assessment of existing property in the County.  This annual increase or decrease is due to value changes rather than to new construction.

Escrow – Money or property held in the custody of a third party that is returned only after the fulfillment of specific conditions.

ESOL – English as a Second Language

Expenditure – The disbursement of appropriated funds to purchase goods and/or services.  There are three basic types of expenditures: operating, capital and debt.  Operating expenditures are, in a broad sense, current day-to-day expenses such as salaries, supplies, and purchase of equipment or property below a certain dollar threshold or useful life.  Usually, these are items which are consumed during the fiscal year in which they are purchased or acquired.

Expenses - Expenditures and other obligations (e.g., encumbrances) for goods and services.


Fairfax County Identification Number – This is a 10- to 30-digit code that identifies a specific item as being procured by an entity within Fairfax County government.

FCEDA – Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

FCIN – See Fairfax County Identification Number

FCPA – Fairfax County Park Authority

FCPL – Fairfax County Public Library

FCPS – Fairfax County Public Schools

FCRHA – Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority

Fiduciary Funds – Fiduciary funds are used to account for assets held in a trustee or agency capacity for others and which, therefore, cannot be used to support the County’s own programs.  The County maintains two types of fiduciary funds – pension trust funds to account for the assets of its pension plans, held by the County under the terms of formal trust agreements, and agency funds to account for assets received, held and disbursed by the County on behalf of various outside organizations.

Financial Forecast – A computer-aided financial model that estimates all future revenues and disbursements based on assumptions of future financial and economic conditions.

Financial Policy - A government’s conscious decision on the financial direction it wants to take regarding revenue, spending, and debt management in relation to government services, programs, and capital investment. Financial policy provides an agreed-upon set of principles for the planning and programming of government budgets and their funding.

Fines and Forfeitures – Consists of a variety of fees, fines and forfeitures collected by the County.

Fiscal Plan – The annual budget.

Fiscal Planning Resolution – A legally binding document prepared by the Department of Management and Budget identifying changes made by the Board of Supervisors to the Advertised Budget Plan during the adoption of the annual budget.  Fiscal Planning Resolutions approved by the Board subsequent to the Adopted Budget Plan change only transfers between funds.  These documents are used at the annual or quarterly reviews whenever changes in fund transfers occur.

Fiscal Restraint – The practice of restraining growth in expenditures and disbursements to stay within revenue forecasts.

Fiscal Year – In Fairfax County, the twelve months beginning July 1 and ending the following June 30.  (The Commonwealth of Virginia’s fiscal year begins on July 1.  The federal government's fiscal year begins October 1).

Fixed Asset –  Items the County owns that have a considerable cost and a useful life exceeding two years, such as computers, furniture, equipment and vehicles.

Fleet – The vehicles owned and operated by the County.

FLSA -The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

FMLA - This refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is a federal law that guarantees certain employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss. FMLA also requires that employers covered by the law maintain the health benefits for eligible workers just as if they were working.

FOCUS (Fairfax County Unified System) – This refers to the joint Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which Fairfax County Government and Fairfax County Public Schools replaced its previous budget, finance, procurement, and human resources systems with a single, unified system in November 2011.

Forecasts - Projections tempered by policy estimates which strive to reconcile past and current trends with current and anticipated policy.

Forfeiture – The automatic loss of property, including cash, as a penalty for breaking the law, or as compensation for losses resulting from illegal activities.  Once property has been forfeited, the County may claim it, resulting in confiscation of the property.

Fringe Benefits – The fringe benefit expenditures included in the budget are the County's share of employees' fringe benefits.  Fringe benefits provided by Fairfax County include FICA (Social Security), health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, retirement, and Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation.  The County's share of most fringe benefits is based on a set percentage of employee salaries.  This percentage varies per category, e.g., Uniformed Fire and Rescue Employees; Uniformed Deputy Sheriffs; Police Officers; Trade, Manual and Custodial Service Employees; and General County Employees.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) - Formerly known as Staff-Year Equivalent (SYE), an FTE reflects whether authorized positions are full-time or part-time.  A position authorized for 40 hours per week is reflected in the budget as one authorized position with a full-time equivalent of one (1/1.0 FTE).  In comparison, a position authorized for 20 hours per week would be indicated as one authorized position with a FTE of 0.5 (1/0.5 FTE).

Fund – A set of interrelated accounts to record revenues and expenditures associated with a specific purpose.  A fund is also a fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts recording cash and other financial resources, together with all related liabilities and residual equities, or balances and changes therein.  Funds are segregated for the purpose of carrying out specific activities or attaining certain objectives in accordance with special regulations, restrictions or limitations.

Fund Balance – At the end of a fiscal year, if there are more resources than expenditures, the remainder is called “fund balance.” This is sometimes referred to as “carried forward fund balance” because the resources can be “carried” into the next fiscal year.  This is an important resource because some may be used in combination with revenues to fund new expenses.  Fund balance may be restricted or unrestricted, reserved for a specific purpose or unreserved and used for future requirements.  Restricted fund balance may be set aside for funding certain programs and activities. A fund balance represents the residual funding on an annual basis from revenues and transfers-in less expenditures and transfers-out.  A fund balance also reflects the fund equity of all funds.

Fund Type – A group of funds that have similar activities, objectives, or funding sources as defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts.  Examples include Special Revenue Funds and Debt Service Funds.

FY – Fiscal Year


GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

GASB – This refers to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board which is currently the source of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) used by state and local governments in the United States.  It is a private, non-governmental organization. The GASB has issued Statements, Interpretations, Technical Bulletins, and Concept Statements defining GAAP for state and local governments since 1984.

GASB 34 – In June 1999, GASB Statement No. 34 (or GASB 34) set new GAAP requirements for reporting major capital assets, including infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sewer facilities, and dams.  Fairfax County has implemented the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s (GASB) Statement Number 34, Basic Financial Statements and Management’s Discussion and Analysis for State and Local Governments, financial reporting model.  This standard changed the entire reporting process for local governments, requiring new entity-wide financial statements, in addition to the current fund statements and other additional reports such as Management Discussion and Analysis.

GASB 45 – Beginning in FY 2008, the County’s financial statements are required to implement Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 45 for other post-employment benefits (OPEBs) including health care, life insurance, and other non-pension benefits offered to retirees.  This new standard addresses how local governments should account for and report their costs related to post-employment health care and other non-pension benefits, such as the County’s retiree health benefit subsidy.  Historically, the County’s subsidy was funded on a pay-as-you-go basis.  GASB 45 requires that the County accrue the cost of the retiree health subsidy and other post-employment benefits during the period of employees’ active employment, while the benefits are being earned, and disclose the unfunded actuarial accrued liability in order to accurately account for the total future cost of post-employment benefits and the financial impact on the County.  This funding methodology mirrors the funding approach used for pension/retirement benefits.  The County has established Fund 603, OPEB Trust Fund, to fund the cost of post-employment health care and other non-pension benefits.  Fund 603 will allow the County to capture long-term investment returns and make progress towards reducing the unfunded liability.  The schools have also established and OPEB trust fund to capture their costs, Fund 692, School OPEB Trust Fund.

General Debt – Principal and interest payments on outstanding debt repaid from the General Fund.

General Fund – The primary tax and operating fund for County Governmental Activities used to account for all County revenues and expenditures which are not accounted for in other funds, and which are used for the general operating functions of County agencies.  Revenues are derived primarily from general property taxes, local sales tax, utility taxes, license and permit fees, and state shared taxes.  General Fund expenditures include the costs of the general County government and transfers to other funds, principally to fund the operations of the Fairfax County Public School system, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, Metro, the Fairfax CONNECTOR, and County and School system debt service requirements.

General Fund Direct Expenditures – These are General Fund expenditures for County agencies and they are organized by Program Area categories. 

General Fund Disbursements – Direct expenditures for County services such as Police or Welfare expenses and transfers from the General Fund to Other County funds such as School Operations or Metro Operations.  General Fund Disbursements consist of two parts: (1) General Fund transferred support to other funds and (2) General Fund direct expenditures or agency expenditures.  Some agencies, e.g., Housing, may have funds that reside both in the General Fund and other funds.

General Ledger - A general ledger account contains financial activity that is needed to prepare financial statements and perform fiduciary oversight, and includes accounts for assets, liabilities, equity, revenues and expenditures.

General Obligation (G.O.) Bond – Bonds for which the full faith and credit of the issuing government are pledged.  County general obligation debt can only be approved by voter referendum.  The State Constitution mandates that taxes on real property be sufficient to pay the principal and interest of such bonds.

GFOA – Government Finance Officers Association

GIS – Geographic Information Systems

Goal – A general statement of purpose.  A goal provides a framework within which the program unit operates; it reflects realistic constraints upon the unit providing the service.  A goal statement speaks generally toward end results rather than specific actions, e.g., "To provide maternity, infant and child health care and/or case management to at risk women, infants, and children in order to achieve optimum health and well being."  Also see Objective.

Governmental Funds – Governmental funds are typically used to account for most of a government’s activities, including those that are tax-supported.  The County maintains the following types of governmental funds: a general fund to account for all activities not required to be accounted for in another fund, special revenue funds, a debt service fund, and capital projects funds.  

Grant – A contribution by one governmental unit to another unit.  The contribution is usually made to aid in the support of a specified function.


HB 2313 - HB 2313 is a Commonwealth of Virginia transportation funding bill signed into law in May 2013.  HB 2313 requires that each locality's total long-term benefit from these transportation funds be approximately equal to the proportion of the fees and taxes received attributable to that locality.   HB 2313 also established a new transportation revenue source for Northern Virginia.

Health Maintenance Organization – A form of health insurance combining a range of coverages in a group basis.  A group of doctors and other medical professionals offer care through the HMO for a flat monthly rate with no deductibles.  However, only visits to professionals within the HMO network are covered by the policy.  All visits, prescriptions and other care must be cleared by the HMO in order to be covered.   A primary physician within the HMO handles referrals.

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HMO – See Health Maintenance Organization

Homeless -The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines literally homeless as an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. 


ICMA – International City/County Management Association

Incentive Reinvestment Initiative - This initiative, which the Board of Supervisors approved in December 2013, allows agencies to identify savings and efficiencies in the current budget year (FY 2015) and retain a portion to reinvest for employee development in the upcoming budget year (FY 2016).

Incumbent - The person who currently occupies and works in a particular position within the County government.

Indirect Costs - These are non-capital costs that are not easily traceable to a specific project, activity, or product. Examples of such costs include general administrative costs, advertising costs, or routine office expenses. 

iNet – Institutional network

Inflation – A rise in price levels caused by an increase in available money and credit beyond the proportion of available goods.  This is also known as too many dollars chasing too few goods.

Infrastructure – Public domain, fixed physical assets including roads, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, drainage systems, lighting systems and other similar items that have value only to the users.

INOVA – Inova Health Systemis a not-for-profit health care system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services including emergency and urgent care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, as well as wellness classes. 

Input – The value of resources used to produce an output.  Input can be staff, budget dollars, work hours, etc.

Interest – The amount paid by a borrower as compensation for the use of borrowed money.  This amount is generally an annual percentage of the principal amount.

Interest Income – Revenue associated with the County cash management activities of investing fund balances.

Internal Service Funds – Funds established to finance and account for services furnished by a designated County agency to other County agencies, which charges those agencies for the goods and services provided.  An example of an Internal Service Fund is Fund 60010, Department of Vehicle Services.

Interfund Billing -  Departmental or fund charge made by one agency/fund to another for services or goods performed or received, such as Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) fuel and vehicle replacement charges, computer replacement charges, radio charges, etc.

Issuing Bonds – To “issue” bonds means to sell, deliver, and receive payment for bonds.  The County may issues bonds throughout the year upon determining the amount of cash necessary to implement projects during that year.


Key County Indicators – Key County Indicators are high-level, countywide measures, organized by vision element, that help assess if Fairfax County government is meeting the needs of citizens and positively impacting the community as a whole.


LAN – Local Area Network

LCI – Local Composite Index

Lease Purchase – This method of financing allows the County to construct or acquire property and pay for it over a period of time by installment payments rather than an outright purchase.  The time payments include an interest charge which is typically reduced because the lessor does not have to pay income tax on the interest revenue.

Level of Need - The minimum, measurable quantity of assistance that is required to meet identified client needs; for example, the number of people in need of vocational training programs or, the number of monthly provider contacts needed by households currently being served.

Liability – An obligation incurred in past or current transactions requiring present or future settlement.

Line Item – A specific expenditure category within an agency budget, e.g., rent, travel, motor pool services, postage, printing, office supplies, etc.

Lines of Business (LOBs) – This refers to the County’s review and inventory of the its discrete agency programs and services, also known as Lines of Business.  LOBs are essentially an inventory of County programs and services offered by each individual agency.  In 2016, Fairfax County is undertaking a comprehensive, multi-year approach to its review of 390 discrete Lines of Business.  The County has previously undertaken Lines of Business reviews in 2008, 2001, 1996 and 1993.

Local Composite Index (LCI) – The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Local Composite Index (CI) determines a school division’s ability to pay education costs fundamental to the Commonwealth’s Standards of Quality (SOQ). The Composite Index is calculated using three indicators of a locality’s ability-to-pay:

  • True value of real property (weighted 50 percent)
  • Adjusted gross income (weighted 40 percent)
  • Taxable retail sales (weighted 10 percent)

Each locality’s index is adjusted to maintain an overall statewide local share of 45 percent and an overall state share of 55 percent.

Local Match – County cash or in-kind resources that are required to be expended simultaneously with federal, state, other locality, or private sector funding, and usually according to a minimum percentage or ratio.

Long-Term Debt – Debt with a maturity of more than one year after the date of issuance.


Managed Reserve – A reserve, held in the General Fund, which equals 2.0 percent of the General Fund disbursements.  Established by the Board of Supervisors on January 25, 1982, the purpose of the reserve is to provide temporary financing for emergency needs and to permit orderly adjustment to changes resulting from the sudden, catastrophic termination of anticipated revenue sources.

Management by Objectives – A method of management of County programs which measures attainment or progress toward pre-defined objectives.  This method evolved into the County’s performance measurement system.

Management Initiatives – Changes to internal business practices undertaken by County managers on their own initiative to improve efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Mandate – A requirement from a higher level of government (federal or state), that a lower level government perform a task in a particular way or in conformance with a particular standard.

Market Pay – A compensation level that is competitive and consistent with the regional market.  The County analyzes the comparability of employee salaries to the market in a number of different ways.  A “Market Index” has been developed that factors in the Consumer Price Index, federal wage adjustments, and the Employment Cost Index (which includes state, local and private sector salaries).  The index is designed to gauge the competitiveness of County pay scales in general.

Mark-Up - Review of the Advertised Budget Plan for approval, disapproval, or modification by the Board of Supervisors prior to the adoption of the budget and tax rates.

Measurement – A variety of methods used to assess the results achieved and improvements still required in a process or system.  Measurement gives the basis for continuous improvement by helping evaluate what is working and what is not working.

Merit Grant – A position with full benefits and full civil service grievances, although the employment term is limited by the grant specifications.  The position is funded by a specific grant.  At the end of the grant position, the person is the first eligible for hire for another similar position in the County.  Also see Position.

Merit Regular – A position with full benefits, full civil service grievance, and 52 work weeks in a year.  Also see Position.

Merit System - Refers to the system of personnel administration applicable to the competitive service. It is governed by the Merit System Ordinance, any applicable provisions of other County ordinances, Personnel Regulations, and all applicable and lawful personnel management directives of the Board of Supervisors, the County Executive, and Department of Human Resources Director.

Mission $avings - An initiative, which began in Fall 2014, empowering (1) agency internal teams, (2) individual employees across the organization, and (3) an Internal Services team of representatives from various agencies, to identify cost savings and efficiencies.

Mission Statement – A mission statement is a broad, philosophical statement of the purpose of an agency, specifying the fundamental reasons for its existence.  A mission statement describes what an organization is in business to do.  Therefore, it also serves as a guiding road map. 

Modified Accrual Basis – The basis of accounting under which revenues are recognized when measurable and available to pay liabilities, and expenditures are recognized when the liability is incurred except for interest on long-term debt which is recognized when due, and the non-current portion of accrued vacation and sick leave which is recorded in general long-term liability.  The General Fund and debt service fund budgets are prepared on the modified accrual basis of accounting except that encumbrances are treated like expenditures.

MPSTOC – McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center

MRA – Market Rate Adjustment

Municipal Bond – Bond issued by a state, local or another government authority especially in the U.S.  The interest is exempt from U.S. Federal taxation and usually from state taxation within the state of issue, as is the case in Virginia.

MWCOG – Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments


NACo – National Association of Counties

Net Debt as a Percent of Estimated Market Value – Total debt (less debt that is self-supported by revenue-producing projects), divided by the total market value of all taxable property within the County expressed as a percentage.  Since property taxes are a primary source of revenue for the repayment of debt, this measure identifies the debt burden compared with the worth of the revenue-generating property base.

Net Total Expenditures – See Total Budget.

Non-Appropriated Funds – These funds do not require annual appropriation by the Board of Supervisors and represent activities that are supported by non-governmental revenue sources such as direct fees for service or revolving loan programs.  The legal spending authority is based on revenue availability and may be derived from an action by the Board in response to state, or federal mandate.  The appropriation control for these funds resides with the respective boards associated specifically with the funded programs, e.g., Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (Funds 940-969), Alcohol Safety Action Program Policy Board (Fund 117), and the Park Authority Board (Funds 170 and 371).  These boards are separate legal entities.  

Non-Pay Employee Benefits - Expenditures for employee benefits that are funded through direct employee support, such as the Employee Assistance Program and unemployment compensation.

Nonresidential - Property designed for use by educational, government or other institutional use or for use by retail, wholesale, office, hotel, service, or other commercial use.

NOVARIS – Northern Virginia Regional Identification System

NVCC – Northern Virginia Community College

NVCT – Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

NVFS – Northern Virginia Family Services

NVRC – Northern Virginia Regional Commission

NVRPA – Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

NVSWCD – Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

NVTC – Northern Virginia Transportation Commission


Objective – A statement of anticipated level of achievement; usually time limited and quantifiable.  Within the objective, specific statements with regard to targets and/or standards often are included, e.g., "To respond to 90 percent of ambulance calls within a 5-minute response time."

OPEB – Other Post-Employment Benefits

Operating Budget – A budget for general revenues and expenditures such as salaries, utilities and supplies. An operating budget is established for executing the various programs within the agency and is typically funded by tax and licensing revenue streams.

Operating Equipment – Equipment that has a life expectancy of more than one year and a value of less than $5,000 dollars.  Equipment with a value greater than $5,000 dollars is capital equipment.

Operating Expenses – A category of recurring expenses, other than salaries and capital equipment costs, which covers expenditures necessary to maintain facilities, collect revenues, provide services, and otherwise carry out the agency's goals.  Typical line items under this character are office supplies, printing, postage, transportation and utilities.

Ordinance – A formal legislative enactment by the County that carries the full force and effect of the law within the boundaries of Fairfax County unless in conflict with any higher form of law, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia or the federal government.

Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) - Post-employment benefits other than pension benefits.  OPEB includes post-employment healthcare benefits, regardless of the type of plan that provides them, and all post-employment benefits provided separately from a pension plan, excluding benefits defined as termination offers and benefits.  Post-employment refers to the period following termination of employment, including the time between termination and retirement.

Outcome – Qualitative consequences associated with a program service, e.g., reduction in fire deaths or percent of juveniles not reconvicted within 12 months.  Also refers to quality performance measures of effectiveness and of achieving goals.

Out-of-Cycle – A term that characterizes budget adjustments approved by the County Board of Supervisors outside of the annual budget process.

Output – Quantity or number of units produced.  Outputs are activity-oriented, measurable, and usually under managerial control.  Also refers to process performance measures of efficiency and productivity, that is, per capita expenditures, transactions per day, etc.



Pass-Through Grants - Grants and other financial assistance received by a governmental entity to transfer to, or spend on behalf of, a secondary recipient.

Pay-As-You-Go Financing – The portion of capital outlay which is financed from current revenue, rather than by borrowing.

Pay for Performance – A system of pay and appraisal that is based on an employee’s performance.  An ongoing dialogue between employees and supervisors regarding performance and expectations is essential to the successful implementation of this system.

Paydown Construction – Capital construction funded with current year General Fund revenues as opposed to construction financed through the issuance of bonds.  This is a method of paying for capital projects that relies on current tax and grant revenues rather than by debt.  This is also referred to as "pay-as-you-go" construction.

Pension Fund – This is a fund that accounts for the accumulation of resources to be used for retirement benefit payments to retired County employees eligible for such benefits.

Per Capita – A measurement of the proportion of some statistic to an individual resident determined by dividing the statistic by the current population.

Per Capita Debt –   The amount of an issuing municipality’s outstanding debt divided by the population residing in the municipality.  This is used as an indication of the issuer’s credit position since it can be used to compare the proportion of debt borne per resident with that borne by the residents of other municipalities.

Performance Budget – A budget wherein expenditures are based primarily upon measurable performance activities and work programs.

Performance Indicators – As used in Fairfax County’s Performance Measurement System, these indicators represent the four types of measures that comprise the Family of Measures and consist of output, efficiency, service quality and outcome.

Performance Measurement – The regular collection of specific information regarding the results of service in Fairfax County, and which determines how effective and/or efficient a program is in achieving its objectives.  The County’s performance measurement methodology links agency mission and cost center goals (broad) to quantified objectives (specific) of what will be accomplished during the fiscal year.  These objectives are then linked to a series of indicators that present a balanced picture of performance, i.e., output, efficiency, service quality and outcome.

Performance Measurement System – The County’s methodology for monitoring performance measures and outcomes.

Permit Revenue – Fees imposed on construction-related activities and for non-construction permits such as sign permits, wetland permits, etc.

Personal Property – Property, other than real estate identified for purposes of taxation, including personally owned items, as well as corporate and business equipment and property.  Examples include automobiles, motorcycles, boats, trailers, airplanes, business furnishings, and manufacturing equipment.  Goods held for sale by manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers are not included.

Personal Property Tax Relief Act of 1998 – Legislation approved by the Virginia General Assembly that reduces the Personal Property Tax on the first $20,000 of the value for vehicles owned by individuals.  From FY 2000 to FY 2002, the PPTRA reduced the Personal Property Taxes paid by individuals by 27.5 percent, 47.5 percent, and 70 percent respectively, with an offsetting reimbursement paid to the County by the Commonwealth.  Due to the Commonwealth’s lower than anticipated General Fund revenue growth, the reimbursement remained at 70 percent from FY 2003 through FY 2006.  The 2004 General Assembly approved legislation that capped statewide Personal Property Tax reimbursements at $950 million in FY 2007 and beyond. Fairfax County’s allocation has been set at $211.3 million.  Each year, County staff must determine the reimbursement percentage based on the County’s fixed reimbursement from the state and an estimate of the number and value of vehicles that will be eligible for tax relief.  As the number and value of vehicles in the County vary, the percentage of tax relief will vary.

Personnel Services – A category of expenditures, which primarily covers salaries, overtime and shift differential paid to County employees and also includes certain fringe benefit costs. 

Persons with Special Needs - Includes individuals and families who are homeless, persons with disabilities and low-income seniors.

Planning Districts - The 14 areas into which Fairfax County is divided for planning purposes. The planning districts' boundaries tend to remain stable over time.

Planning System – Refers to the relationship between the Annual Budget, the Comprehensive Plan, and the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan.

Position – A group of duties and responsibilities, as prescribed by an office or agency, to be performed by a person on a full-time or part-time basis.

The status of a position is not to be confused with the status of the employee.  For the purpose of the County's budget, the following definitions are used solely in describing the status and funding of positions:

  • An established position is a position that has been classified and assigned a pay grade.
  • An authorized position has been approved for establishment by the Board of Supervisors.  The authorized position is always shown as a single, not a partial position.  Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) reflects whether positions are authorized for full-time (40 hours per week) or part-time.  A full-time position would appear in the budget as one authorized position and one full-time equivalent (1/1.0 FTE).  A half-time position would be indicated as one authorized position and 0.5 full-time equivalents (1/0.5 FTE).

The following defines the types of positions in Fairfax County.  They can be either full or part-time status.

  • A regular merit position is a career position, where the incumbent is subject to all provisions of the Merit System Ordinance.  Merit Grant positions are classified as Merit Regular positions.
  • An exempt benefits eligible position (Status E) is a non-merit position where the incumbent works between 1,040 and 1,560 hours annually, and is eligible for health, dental and flexible spending benefits.
  • An exempt temporary position (Status G) is a non-merit position where the incumbent works no more than 900 hours annually and is not eligible for benefits.
  • An exempt attached position (Status D) is a position where the incumbent is employed by a non-County public agency, that is attached to the County for payroll purposes only pursuant to an agreement made in accordance with County Code §§ 3-1-1-(c) and 3-1-2(b)(4).   The benefits for this position type are  defined by written agreement.
  • An exempt position does not fall within the provisions of the Merit System Ordinance.  It includes elected and appointed positions.  

Cooperative funding of some positions occurs between the federal and state governments and Fairfax County.  Numerous funding and reimbursement mechanisms exist.  The County's share of a position's authorized funding level is that portion of a position's salary and/or fringe benefits paid by the County which is over and above the amount paid by the state or federal government either based on the County's pay classification schedule or based on a formal funding agreement.  The share of state or federal funding varies depending upon the eligibility of each individual agency and type of position.

  • A state position is a position established and authorized by the state.  These positions may be partially or fully funded by the state.
  • County supplement is the portion of a state position's authorized salary (based on the County's compensation plan) that exceeds the state's maximum funding level.  This difference is fully paid by the County.

Position Turnover – An accounting debit which allows for gross salary projections to be reduced due to anticipated and normal position vacancies, delays in filling vacancies, and historical position turnover information.

Poverty Thresholds - Poverty thresholds are based on the Social Security Administration's definition of the minimum income that allows for a nutritionally adequate diet and adequate housing. It allows for differences in the size and composition of families. The poverty income cutoffs are revised annually to allow for changes in the cost of living as reflected in the Consumer Price Index. 

PPEA – See Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act

PPTRA – See Personal Property Tax Relief Act

Present Value – The discounted value of a future amount of cash, assuming a given rate of interest, to take into account the time value of money.  Stated differently, a dollar is worth a dollar today, but is worth less tomorrow.

Prime Interest Rate – The rate of interest charged by banks to their preferred customers.

Principal – The face amount of a security payable on the maturity date.

Proffer System - In July 1975, "proffers" were introduced to the process for rezoning property within Fairfax County. The act of proffering involves making an offer of something prior to any formal negotiations. The concept of supplementing regulations of the Zoning Ordinance by conditions proffered by an applicant seeking an amendment to the zoning map is cited in the Code of Virginia (now Sect. 15.2-2303, see Appendix A). Implicit in the term proffer, as defined by the State Code, is the understanding that proffers are voluntarily submitted by the property owner.  The proffer system continues today with support from the various participants in the rezoning process, including, the development community, citizens, staff and County officials. The conditions in a proffer statement typically address issues such as noise mitigation measures to be employed, buffering, landscaping, urban design features, architectural elements, and other similar design elements, tree preservation, commitments to address transportation impacts, etc.

Program – Group activities, operations or organizational units directed to attaining specific objectives and achievements and budgeted as a sub-unit of a department.

Program Area – A grouping of County agencies with related countywide goals.  Under each program area, individual agencies participate in activities to support that program area's goals.  The Public Safety Program Area, for example, includes the Police Department and the Fire and Rescue Department, among others.  The Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth of Virginia provides direction on which agencies are included in each program area.

Program Budget – A statement and plan, which identifies and classifies, total expenditures and revenues by activity or program.  Budgets are aggregated into program areas.  This is in contrast to a line-item budget, which identifies expenditures only by objects for which money is spent, e.g., personnel services, operating expenses, recovered costs or capital equipment.

Projections - Projections are based upon trend analyses utilizing statistical techniques.

Property Tax – A tax levied on the assessed value of real and personal property.  This tax is also known as an ad valorem tax.

Property Tax Rate – The rate of taxes levied against real or personal property, expressed as dollars per $100 of equalized assessed valuation of the property taxed.

Proposed Budget - The Code of Virginia (Sections 15.2-516 and 2503) requires that the County Executive submit a proposed budget to the Board of County Supervisors no later than April 1 for the upcoming fiscal year.  Sections 15.2-2506, 58.1-3007, and 58.1-3321 of the Code of Virginia govern the public notice requirements that guide the County’s budget review and public comment period. After receipt of the proposed budget, the first action by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) is to authorize the advertisement of the proposed tax and levy rates. Once the proposed rate is advertised, the BOS can adopt lower tax and levy rates, but cannot, without additional advertisement, adopt higher rates. The timing of the advertisement is tied to the amount of increased revenue anticipated by the proposed rate. The Code also requires the BOS to hold public hearings on the proposed budget and the proposed tax and levy rates to collect public comment.

Proprietary Funds – Proprietary funds are enterprise and internal service funds used to account for business-type activities that are similar to the private sector and in which fees are charged for goods or services.  They are related to assets, liabilities, equities, revenues, expenses and transfers.  The County maintains both types of proprietary funds – enterprise funds to account for the Integrated Sewer System and internal service funds to account for certain centralized services that are provided internally to other departments such as Vehicle Services and Document Services.

PSCC – Public Safety Communications Center

PSCN – Public Safety Communications Network

PSOHC – Public Safety Occupational Health Center

P/T – Part-Time

Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act (PPEA) – During its 2002 session, the Virginia General Assembly enacted the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA).  This law provides that once a “responsible public entity” such as Fairfax County adopts appropriate procedures to implement the PPEA, it may solicit proposals to acquire a “qualifying project” from private entities (i.e., issue an Invitation for Bid or Request for Proposal) or may consider proposals that are submitted by a private entity without a prior solicitation (“unsolicited proposal”).

Public Hearing - A public hearing is a specifically designated time, place, and opportunity for citizens, community groups, businesses, and other stakeholders to address the Board of Supervisors on a particular issue. It allows interested parties to express their opinions and the Board of Supervisors and/or staff to hear their concerns and advice.  Section 15.2-2507 of the Code of Virginia requires that a public hearing be held prior to the adoption of amendments to the current year budget when the adjustments exceed one percent of total expenditures. In addition, any amendment of one percent of expenditures or more requires that the Board advertise a synopsis of the proposed changes, such as done as part of Third Quarter or Carryover


Rating Agencies – The organizations which provide publicly available ratings of the credit quality of securities issuers.  The term is most often used to refer to the nationally recognized agencies, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Standard & Poor’s Corporation, and Fitch Investors.

Reallocation – With adequate justification and DMB approval, agencies can perform a budget transfer of funds from one category to another, e.g., from Personnel Services to Operating Expenses, as long as there is no change to the agency’s bottom-line budget and the budget transfer must occur within the same agency and/or fund.

Real Property – Real estate, including land and improvements (buildings, fences, pavements, etc.) classified for purposes of assessment.

Reclassification - An administrative review process by which a County position is re-evaluated to determine if the position has been appropriately classified under the County’s personnel classification system.

Recovered Costs – Reimbursements to an agency for specific services provided to another agency.  Recovered Costs, or Work Performed for Others, are reflected as a negative figure in the providing agency's budget, thus offsetting expenditures.  An example is the reimbursement received by the Department of Information Technology from other agencies for telecommunication services. 

Rec-PAC – Rec-PAC (Pretty Awesome Children), operated by Fairfax County Park Authority, is a six-week structured recreation program offered during the summer with emphasis on leisure skills designed for elementary school children.

Reduction in Force (RIF) - A permanent elimination of an excess number of filled merit positions.

Referendum – A referendum is a means by which a legislative body requests the electorate to approve or reject proposals such as Constitutional amendments, long-term borrowing; and other special laws.

Refunding – Retiring an outstanding bond issue at maturity (sometimes done before maturity date if rate is favorable) by using money from the sale of a new bond offering.  In other words, issuing bonds to pay off the old bonds.  In an Advance Refunding, a new bond issuance is used to pay off another outstanding bond.  The new bond will often be issued at a lower rate than the older outstanding bond.  Typically, the proceeds from the new bond are invested and when the older bonds become callable, they are paid off with the invested proceeds.  In a Crossover Refunding, the revenue stream pledged to secure the securities being refunded is being used to pay off debt on the refunded securities until they mature.

Rent Affordability - The generally accepted definition of rent affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.  (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Reserves – A portion of the fund balance or retained earnings legally segregated for specific purposes.  Reserves are lump sum dollars set aside in a budget for unanticipated needs or for specific future needs. Reserves are not distributed or allocated to operating expenditures or capital expenditures because the specific requirements for the reserves are not known at the time of budget adoption or because bond documents require their establishment.  The County is required to amend its budget in order to allocate reserve funds to an operating or capital project account.  In many cases, a reserve can only be used for a specific purpose.

Resolution - A special or temporary order of a legislative body requiring less legal formality than an ordinance or statute.

Revenue – Monies received from all sources (with exception of fund balances) that will be used to fund expenditures in a fiscal year.  In the broadest sense, a revenue is an increase in financial resources. Revenues are funds received by the County from its activities or external sources such as real estate taxes, property taxes, local sales tax, fees for services, fines, grants, payments from other governments, etc. 

Revenue Bond – A municipal bond secured by the revenues of the project for which it is issued.  Revenue Bonds are those bonds whose principal and interest are payable exclusively from earnings of an enterprise fund.  Sewer and utility bonds are typically issued as revenue bonds.  The County also issues Lease Revenue bonds, a form of revenue bond in which the payments are secured by a lease on the property built or improved with the proceeds of the bond sale.

Revenue Forecast – A projection of future County revenue collections.

Revenue Stabilization Fund – In FY 2000, the Board of Supervisors approved the creation of this fund to provide a mechanism for maintaining a balanced budget without resorting to tax increases and/or expenditure reductions that aggravate the stresses imposed by the cyclical nature of the economy.  This fund maintains a balance of 3 percent of General Fund Disbursements.


SAC – Selection Advisory Committee

SACC – School-Age Child Care

SAFER Grants - Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants were created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Sales Tax – Tax imposed on the taxable sales of all final goods. 

SAR – Supplemental Appropriation Resolution

SBE – Small Business Enterprise

SCBA – Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus

SCC – State Corporation Commission

School Board Budget – Includes the School Operating Fund, the School Food and Nutrition Services Fund, School Grants and Self Supporting Programs, School Adult and Community Education, Public School OPEB Trust Fund, the School Insurance Fund, the School Construction Fund, the School Central Procurement Fund, the School Health and Flexible Benefits Trust Fund and the Educational Employees' Supplementary Retirement Fund, identifying both expenditure levels and sources of revenue.  The Board of Supervisors may increase or decrease the School Board budget but normally does so only at the fund level (i.e., by increasing or decreasing the General Fund Transfer to the School Operating Fund without specifying how the change is to be applied).  By state law, the Supervisors may not make specific program or line item changes, but may make changes in certain major classifications (e.g., instruction, overhead, maintenance, etc.). 

School Board Transfer – A transfer out of funds from the General Fund to the School Operating Fund.  State law requires that this transfer be approved by the Board of Supervisors by May 1, for the next fiscal year.

School Operating Fund - This fund provides for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the schools and is funded primarily by county and state funds. In the Transparency Application, this fund is separated into: Operating Fund – Operations; and Operating Fund – Central and Grants. The School Operating Fund is FCPS’ primary (or general) fund. Those activities that are partially supported by grants and activities managed by departments on behalf of schools are shown separately from general operating activities.

SCYPT - See Successful Children and Youth Policy Team

Self-Sufficiency - The ability to consistently meet basic needs – such as food, housing, utilities, healthcare, transportation, taxes, dependent care, and clothing – without assistance or subsidies from private or public organizations (excluding Social Security retirement, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Medicare).

Sequestration - Budget sequestration is a procedure in United States law that limits the size of the federal budget. Sequestration involves setting a hard cap on the amount of government spending within broadly-defined categories; if Congress enacts annual appropriations legislation that exceeds these caps, an across-the-board spending cut is automatically imposed on these categories, affecting all departments and programs by an equal percentage. The amount exceeding the budget limit is held back by the Treasury and not transferred to the agencies specified in the appropriation bills.

Service Capacity - The measurable quantity of assistance that can be provided without sacrificing quality of assistance provided; for example, the number of spots available in vocational training programs, or, the number of provider contacts with households than can be provided in one month.

Service Quality – Degree to which customers are satisfied with a program, or how accurately or timely, a service is provided.

Set-Aside Reserve – A reserve made up from available balances materializing throughout one or more fiscal years which are not required to support disbursements of a legal or emergency nature and are held (set aside) for future funding requirements.

Sewer Funds – A group of self-sufficient funds that support the Wastewater Management Program.  Revenues consist of bond sales, availability fees (a one-time fee paid before connection to the system and used to defray the cost of major plant and trunk construction), connection charges (a one-time fee to defray the cost of the lateral connection between a building and the trunk), service charges (quarterly fees based on water usage which defray operating costs and debt service), and interest on invested funds.  Expenditures consist of construction costs, debt service, and the cost of operating and maintaining the collection and treatment systems.

Short-Term Debt – Debt with a maturity of less than one year after the date of issuance.

SNAP - See Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Special Revenue Funds – Funds defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts to account for the proceeds of specific revenue sources that are legally restricted to expenditures for specific purposes.  These funds account for the revenues and expenditures related to Fairfax County's state and federal grants, the operation of the Fairfax County Public Schools, and specific taxing districts that are principally financed by special assessment tax levies in those districts.

Staff-Year Equivalency (SYE) – This figure reflects whether authorized positions are full-time or part-time.  A position authorized for 40 hours per week is reflected in the budget as one authorized position with a staff-year equivalency (SYE) of one (1/1.0 SYE).  In comparison, a position authorized for 20 hours per week would be indicated as one authorized position with a SYE of 0.5 (1/0.5 SYE).

Strategic Plan – A document outlining long-term goals, critical issues and action plans to increase the organization’s effectiveness in attaining its mission, priorities, goals and objectives.  Strategic planning starts with examining the present, envisioning the future, choosing how to get there, and making it happen.

Strategic Planning Process – The strategic planning process provides the County the opportunity to identify individual agency missions and goals in support of the public need, action steps to achieve those goals and measures of progress and success in meeting strategic goals.  Strategic planning helps ensure that limited resources are appropriately allocated to achieve the objectives of the community as determined by the Board of Supervisors.

Successful Children and Youth Policy Team (SCYPT) - First convened in May 2013, the Successful Children and Youth Policy Team (SCYPT) is comprised of leaders from multiple sectors within Fairfax County. The team’s role is to set community-wide goals and priorities for public policy as it relates to children, youth and families. According to the team’s charter, “in order to become confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens, all of Fairfax County’s children need to be safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, included, respected and responsible. This can only be realized if the county, schools, community and families pull together to plan and deliver top-quality services, which overcome traditional boundaries.” Membership on the team is divided among representatives from Fairfax County Government, Fairfax County Public Schools and the community. Two members from both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board participate. Community members are identified to provide the perspective of various sectors impacting youth well-being, including health care, nonprofit, faith and philanthropy.

Supplemental Appropriation Resolution – Any appropriation resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors after the adoption of the budget for a given fiscal year.  The legal document reflecting approved changes to the appropriation authority for an agency or fund.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.  SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. The federal Food and Nutrition Service works with State agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can make informed decisions about applying for the program and can access benefits.

Supportive Services - Assistance, provided to individuals and families in housing of any type that is designed to and provided with the intent of increasing their ability to live independently, improving their life skills, maintaining residential stability, and ultimately moving toward self-sufficiency.

System of Care - System of Care is an integrated continuum of services and supports for children, youth and families provided by Fairfax County human services departments, public schools, County-funded providers and community-based advocacy and service organizations.  It includes behavioral health services for youth and services covered under the Children’s Services Act (CSA). 

SWRRC – Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling Centers


TANF – See Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

Taxable Value – The assessed value less homestead and other exemptions, if applicable.

Tax Base – The aggregate value of taxed items.  The base of the County's real property tax is the market value of all real estate in the County.  The base of the personal property is the market value of all automobiles, trailers, boats, airplanes, business equipment, etc., which are taxed as personal property by the County.  The tax base of a sales tax is the total volume of taxable sales.

Tax Levy - Charges imposed by a government to finance activities for the common benefit. Fairfax County’s tax levies are based on an approved tax rate per $100 of assessed value.

Tax Rate – The level of taxation stated in terms of either a dollar amount or a percentage of the value of the tax base.  The Board of Supervisors fixes property tax rates for the period beginning January 1 of the current calendar year when the budget for the coming fiscal year is approved.  The property tax rate is applied to the value of property assessed as of January 1 each year. 

Technology Infrastructure – The hardware and software that support information requirements, including computer workstations and associated software, network and communications equipment, and mainframe devices.

Temporary Allocations - Temporary allocations are used for emergency situations, generally to allow an agency to expend project/grant revenue already received but not yet appropriated.  Temporary allocations should be used for expenditures only, using only one entry per character for each specific project/grant. 

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) - Virginia’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — formerly AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children AFDC) — is a federal/state public assistance program authorized by the Code of Virginia and Title IV-A of the Social Security Act. TANF is funded through a federal block grant and through state funds authorized by the Virginia General Assembly.  The purpose of TANF is to provide temporary cash assistance to families in need and to end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation and work. With few exceptions, assistance under TANF is restricted to a lifetime limit of 60 cumulative months.

Third Quarter Review – The current year budget is reevaluated approximately seven months after the adoption of the budget based on current projections and spending to date.  The primary areas reviewed and analyzed are (1) current year budget versus year-to-date expenditures plus expenditure projections for the remainder of the year, (2) emergency requirements for additional, previously unapproved items, and (3) possible savings.  Recommended funding adjustments are provided for Board of Supervisors’ approval.

Total Budget – The receipts and disbursements of all funds, e.g., the General Fund and all other funds.  Net total expenditures (total expenditures minus expenditures for internal service funds) is a more useful measure of the total amount of money the County will spend in a budget year, as it eliminates double accounting for millions of dollars appropriated to operating agencies and transferred by them to service agencies.  General Fund total disbursements (direct General Fund expenditures plus transfers to other funds, such as the School Operating Fund) are a more accurate measure of the cost of government to the local taxpayers.

Total Project Estimate – A capital project Total Project Estimate (TPE) is composed of funds already expended, currently appropriated, proposed or adopted in the budget year, and proposed for future years.  In short, it is the total amount proposed to be expended over the life of the project.

Transfer – A movement of funding from one fund to another.  The largest such transaction is the annual transfer of funds from the General Fund to the School Operating Fund.  Further complicating the structure of the budget and the process of adopting a budget are numerous movements of dollars among the funds and they are, therefore, internal to the County structure.  The amount transferred out of one fund is recorded (“Transfers In”) and the amount transferred into another fund is also recorded (“Transfers Out”). The County records this movement of funds as a “transfer” in the budget and in the accounting system in order to more accurately represent financial activity. Transfers provide money to programs that may not have adequate revenue from grants or fees generated by the program.

Translational Medicine - Translational medicine is a rapidly growing discipline in biomedical research and aims to expedite the discovery of new diagnostic tools and treatments by using a multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative, "bench-to-bedside" approach.

Transport Fees – The cost to provide ambulance transportation to patients from home to hospital.

Trial Balance - The trial balance is a report listing the debit and credit activity of balances in all the County’s general ledger accounts, including assets, liabilities, equity, revenues, and expenditures.

Trust Funds – A categorization of accounts defined by the State Auditor of Public Accounts consisting of funds established to account for money and property held by the County government in the capacity of a trustee or custodian for individuals or other specified purposes.  Examples are the various retirement funds, which contain contributions from the County government and individual employees.


UASI – See Urban Areas Security Initiative

Unappropriated – Not obligated for a specific purpose.

Undesignated – Without a specific purpose.

Unencumbered - This term refers to unspent funds.  An unencumbered balance of funds in an account is not restricted or reserved with respect to their availability for future use.

Unfunded Positions -Positions that departments have elected to hold vacant in order to achieve personnel expenditure savings beyond the normal expected turnover savings. These positions are in the departments’ FTE counts, and remain eligible for departments to request restored funding at some future date.

Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) - The UASI program is intended to provide financial assistance to address the unique multi-discipline planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas, and to assist these areas in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism using the Whole Community approach. Activities implemented with UASI funds must support terrorism preparedness by building or enhancing capabilities that relate to the prevention of, protection from, mitigation of, response to or recovery from terrorism in order to be considered eligible.  Fairfax County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) utilizes UASI funds for multiple purposes, such as sustaining operational readiness, training County personnel and preparing its residents.

Useful Life – The period of time that a fixed asset is able to be used.  This can refer to a budgeted period of time for an equipment class or the actual amount of time for a particular item.

User Fees – Charges for expenses incurred when services are provided to an individual or groups and not the community at large.  The key to effective utilization of user fees is being able to identify specific beneficiaries of services and then determine the full cost of the service they are consuming or using.


VACo – Virginia Association of Counties

VIEW – The Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW) supports the efforts of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to achieve independence through employment. VIEW focuses on the participants' strengths and provides services to help them overcome job-related challenges, as well as personal, medical and family challenges that affect employment. The Fairfax County Department of Family Services (DFS) administers benefits under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which provides temporary cash assistance to low-income families with children. Parents who receive this assistance, and are able to work, are required to participate in the VIEW program. 

Vision Elements – The vision elements were developed in FY 2005 by the County Executive and the Senior Management team to address the priorities of the Board of Supervisors and emphasize the County’s commitment to protecting and enriching the quality of life for the people, neighborhoods, and diverse communities of Fairfax County.  There are seven vision elements including: Maintaining Safe and Caring Communities, Building Livable Spaces, Connecting People and Places, Maintaining Healthy Economies, Practicing Environmental Stewardship, Creating a Culture of Engagement and Exercising Corporate Stewardship. 

VRE – Virginia Railway Express


WAHP – Washington Area Housing Partnership

WAHTF – Washington Area Housing Trust Fund

Waiting List - A roster of those waiting for a service or product to be provided, established when the demand for a specific program exceeds the program’s service capacity.

Workforce Housing - Fairfax County defines “workforce housing” as rental or for-sale housing units that are affordable to households with maximum income limits up to and including 120 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area, as determined periodically by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan-Policy Plan).

WAN – Wide Area Network

WMATA – Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Workforce Planning – A systematic process designed to anticipate and integrate the human resources aspect to an organization’s strategic plan by identifying, acquiring, developing, and retaining employees to meet organizational needs.

Work Performed for Others / WPFO - Expenditure credits for services provided on behalf of a different County agency.

Wrap-Around - Intensive, individualized comprehensive services that are coordinated across multiple disciplines and/or agencies to create the greatest impact with the least number of barriers and ultimately meet the client needs.

WPFO – Work Performed For Others

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