Budgeting and Accounting for Capital Improvements

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The budget and accounting structures differ for operating budgets and capital budgets. The comptroller of the Tennessee treasury issues a uniform chart of accounts for county governments. Operating budgets include the General Fund and Fund account (101), Special Revenue Funds (111-149), and Debt Service Funds (151-159).

Capital project funds include funds for education, highways, and other general needs. These fund numbers are 171 through 189. The How a County Budget is Organized graph is a pictorial representation of the accounting structure for county governments. As such, the county government is like one company with multi-independent companies operating to create the one company. These individual companies are referred to as funds. The diagram shows the funds that have annual revenue must adopt annual budgets. Whereas capital project funds may not have annual revenue and thus annual budgets are not required. However, project budgets are highly recommended. Any issuance of debt represents approval for a project budget. If a county does put annual revenue in a capital projects fund, annual budgets must be approved.

Revenue and expenses also differ for these two budgets. Annual county revenue can contribute to all funds, mainly general, special revenue and debt service. However, capital project funds are generally funded by debt, such as capital outlay notes (CON), bonds, and grants.