Glossary

The following is a Glossary to help with some of the terminology being used in the budget process. If you have other terms that you don't know, or would like to see added, please leave a comment below.

Assessed Value

The value placed on real and other property as a basis for levying taxes

Board of Commissioners (BOC)

The County's legislative and administrative body comprised of eleven commissioners who are elected by direct vote from single member districts.

Budget

A financial operating plan embodying an estimate of proposed county expenditures for a given period and the proposed means of financing them.

Capital Assets

Long-term (with an expected life of more than one year) assets with a value in excess of $5,000.

Community of Interest

A group composed of all the participants of a system (both internal to County government and external partners) who have common customers and a shared purpose.  These groups come together to look at how they can change the system to reach the desired outcome of positive community impact.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The CPI or Consumer Price Index is a measure of the cost of goods purchased by average U.S. household. It is calculated by the U.S. government's Bureau of Labor Statistics on a monthly basis.

Cost Allocation Plan (CAP)

The Cost Allocation Plan (CAP) is the necessary methodology for charging individual departments for support services that include the use of County infrastructure like buildings, technology or human resources. Washtenaw County contracts with an outside vendor Maximus to configure the CAP for each budget cycle.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA)

A downtown development authority is a type of tax increment finance authority available to a city, village, or township. Under tax increment financing, an authority captures a defined portion of the property tax revenues in a designated area.  Typically, a DDA captures the growth in tax revenue within a designated development area for use in financing a variety of public improvements in the area, often through the issuance of bonds.  These designations include special assessments on property within the DDA, and Tax Increment Financing, commonly known as TIF.  DDA designations and other financing tools must be taken into account when assessing revenue from property taxes within the County.

Deficit

The excess of an entity's liabilities over its assets, or the excess of expenditures/expenses over revenues during a single accounting period.

Equalization

Equalization is a County department and a process that recommends the property tax base for the County and helps to ensure that property assessments are set at uniform and equitable levels per the Michigan State Constitution.  More than 60% of Washtenaw Countys General Fund revenues are generated from property taxes levied on these values.

The Equalization Department's main purpose is to correct the inequities that may occur among local units of government as a result of under-assessment or over-assessment of properties within a given property tax classification. The Equalization Department does not determine individual assessments, that is the sole responsibility of the local assessor in a municipality. The equalization process is accomplished using sales and appraisal studies performed on individual property classes in each township and city throughout the County.

    Time Change for Equalization Information: As a way to address the coming loss of State Revenue Sharing, the Michigan State Legislature allowed counties to create a cache of revenue resulting from a change to timing of Property Tax collections.  Instead of July of the preceding year, property taxes are now due in December, which means that the County cannot know until April of the current budget year how much revenue it will bring in through property tax.  The best estimate is that this "stand-in" for Revenue Sharing will be depleted by the end of 2012, at which time the State has said it will reestablish some form of revenue sharing.

Executive Session

A term for any block within an otherwise public meeting, in which the members of the board meet in private. The contents of this discussion are deemed legally sensitive or otherwise confidential to warrant the closed session

General Fund

The largest fund within the county, it accounts for most of the financial resources of the government.  General Fund revenues include property taxes, licenses and permits, local taxes, service charges and other types of revenue.  The General Fund includes most of the basic operating services such as administration, Sheriff, Trial Court, finance, data processing, public works, County Clerk, etc.

Headlee Amendment

1978 Amendment to Michigan State Constitution limiting property tax rate increases without voter approval.  Headlee requires that tax rates be "rolled back" if the increase in a taxing unit's equalized valuation (excluding changes from new construction, improvements and losses) is greater than the rate of inflation.  Headlee also requires the State to appropriate necessary funds to local units for any new state-required services and prohibits the State from reducing State share of existing required services.

Hotelling

Recent studies of knowledge workers, particularly salespeople, customer representatives, and consultants, indicate they spend only 30% of their time in the office. Teleworking also contributes to less frequent presence in the office. So why have a workstation?" Companies are also finding that people may need different kinds of workstations at different times for different tasks (e.g. an enclosed office one day and open space the next and a war room the next - all within the same office.) This means that nomadism is not only inter-office (travellers and teleworkers), but intra-office.  (See Wikipedia on Hotelling)

Millage

The millage rate is the amount of taxes to be paid per thousand dollars of taxable value.  For example, a property with taxable value of $100,000, taxed at 1.0 mills, would be taxed $100.

Pension Trust Fund

A fund used to account for the collection of retirement and other employee benefit contributions from the County and its employees.  This fund also manages these collections and makes payments to qualified retirees, beneficiaries, and disabled employees.

Proposal A

Proposal A was passed in 1994 and changed the way in which the taxable value of a parcel of property is calculated in Michigan.  The net result of these changes was that the taxable value of each parcel adjusted for additions and losses will not increase more than the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5%, whichever is less, until ownership is transferred.

Reserve

An account used to indicate that a portion of a fund's equity is legally restricted for a specific purpose, and is not available for general appropriation.

Revenue

Funds that the County receives as income.  Revenue includes such items as tax payments, fees from specific services, fines, grants, shared revenues and interest income.

State Equalized Value (SEV) (Also known as County Equalized Value (CEV))

The taxable value of a parcel of land.  Prior to 1994 the taxable value of a parcel was equal to 50% of the current assessed value.  This changed in 1994 due to Proposal A.  See Proposal A for more information.

Tax Increment Financing Agreenent (TIFA)

A Tax Increment Financing  Agreement (TIFA) is a financing and development tool that allows future real property taxes and other taxes generated by new development to pay for costs of construction of public infrastructure and other improvements. DDA designations and other financing tools like TIFAs must be taken into account when assessing revenue from property taxes within the County.

Taxable Value

The amount of allowable taxes charged for a parcel of land.  In Michigan, the taxable value is based on SEV.  Washtenaw County Treasurer: Understanding Taxable Value.

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