One of the most important responsibilities a local elected
official has is oversight of the agency’s spending.
This oversight takes several forms, each of which are summarized
This glossary, available in English and Spanish, is designed to
help non-finance experts understand some of the terminology used
in public agency financial management.
Budgets are an agency’s tool for linking near-term goals with the
resources available to achieve them,
Financial reports are an essential oversight tool. There are two
basic kinds of financial reports.
Debt financing is neither a “bad” nor a “good”—it is simply a
tool for achieving community goals.
Sometimes, public agencies have funds on hand that are being held
for longer-term needs.
Financial policies can provide a solid foundation for sound
public agency fiscal practices.
Purchasing presents a number of ethical and legal hazards for
local officials, despite what can be a relatively small impact on
overall agency spending.
Forecasting helps the agency think about the factors affecting
the agency’s fiscal health (and what can and cannot be done about
The Institute interviewed local elected officials to get their
input on what kinds of information newly elected officials
Staff, do you need help with orientation materials? Check out ILG’s carefully selected resources for newly elected officials on core local government concepts.