Budget Glossary of Terms

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A request to eliminate a position. Once a position is abrogated, it cannot be administratively reinstated. If the body of work returns, a department must request new position authority from the City Council.


The proposed order and items of business to be considered during Budget Committee meetings.


The expenditure amount planned for a particular project or service that requires additional legislative action or appropriation before expenditures are authorized.


A legal authorization granted by the City Council, the City’s legislative authority, to make expenditures and incur obligations for specific purposes.

Biennial Budget

A budget covering a two-year period. Under state law, a biennium begins with an odd-numbered year.

Budget - Adopted and Proposed

The Mayor submits to the City Council a recommended expenditure and revenue level for all City operations for the coming fiscal year as the Proposed Budget. When the City Council agrees upon the revenue and expenditure levels, the Proposed Budget becomes the Adopted Budget, funds are appropriated, and legal expenditure limits are established.

Budget - Endorsed

The City of Seattle implements biennial budgeting through the sequential adoption of two one-year budgets. When adopting the budget for the first year of the biennium, the Council endorses a budget for the second year. The Endorsed Budget is the basis for a Proposed Budget for the second year of the biennium, and is reviewed and adopted in the fall of the first year of the biennium.

Budget Control Level (BCL)

The level at which expenditures are controlled to meet State and City budget law provisions.

Budget Guidance Statement (BUGS)

BUGS are used to ask the Mayor to incorporate some policy interest into the development of his proposed biennial budget.

Budget Proviso

Budget provisos are the mechanism that the Council uses to impose restrictions on appropriations in the City’s budget. Budget provisos are included as a part of a Council Budget Action.

CAFR or Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the City

The City’s annual financial statement prepared by the Department of Executive Administration.

Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

Annual appropriations from specific funding sources are shown in the City's budget for certain capital purposes such as street improvements, building construction, and some kinds of facility maintenance. These appropriations are supported by a six-year allocation plan detailing all projects, fund sources, and expenditure amounts, including many multi-year projects that require funding beyond the one-year period of the annual budget. The allocation plan covers a six-year period and is produced as a separate document from the budget document.

Chart of Accounts

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

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)

A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual grant to Seattle and other local governments to support economic development projects, human services, low-income housing, and services in low-income neighborhoods.

Cost Allocation

Distribution of costs based on some proxy for costs incurred or benefits received.

Council Budget Actions

A Council Budget Action, formerly known as a Green Sheet, is the mechanism that the Council uses to modify the Mayor’s proposed budget. A Council Budget Action can:

  • increase or decrease revenues;
  • increase or decrease expenditures for specific programs or services;
  • increase or decrease staff positions;
  • add or delete a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project;
  • increase or decrease funding for a CIP project;
  • amend (if necessary), and vote on, budget legislation; or impose a budget proviso on an appropriation.

Council Budget Actions are posted with the agenda of a meeting and presented before the Council Budget Committee.

Cumulative Reserve Subfund (CRF)

A significant source of ongoing local funding to support capital projects in general government departments. The CRS consists of two accounts: the Capital Projects Account and the Revenue Stabilization Account. The Capital Projects Account has six subaccounts: REET I, REET II, Unrestricted, South Lake Union Property Proceeds, Asset Preservation Subaccount - Fleets and Facilities, and the Street Vacation Subaccount. The Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) is levied on all sales of real estate, with the first .25% of the locally imposed tax going to REET I and the second .25% to REET II. State law specifies how each REET can be spent.

Debt Service

Annual principal and interest payments the City owes on money it has borrowed.


Adjustments, corrections, and new information sent by departments through the Department of Finance to the City Council during the Council’s budget review as an adjunct to the Mayor’s Proposed Budget. The purpose is to adjust the Proposed Budget to reflect information not available upon submittal and to correct inadvertent errors.

Full Time Equivalent (FTE)

A term expressing the amount of time for which a position has been budgeted in relation to the amount of time a regular, full-time employee normally works in a year. Most full-time employees (1.00 FTE) are paid for 2,088 hours in a year (or 2,096 in a leap year). A position budgeted to work half-time for a full year, or full-time for only six months, is 0.50 FTE.


An accounting entity with a set of self-balancing revenue and expenditure accounts used to record the financial affairs of a governmental organization.

Fund Balance

The difference between the assets and liabilities of a particular fund. This incorporates the accumulated difference between the revenues and expenditures each year.

General Fund (GF) / General SubFund (GSF)

A central fund into which most of the City’s general tax revenues and discretionary resources are pooled, and which is allocated to support many of the operations of City government. Beginning with the 1997 Adopted Budget, the General Fund was restructured to encompass a number of subfunds, including the General Fund Subfund (comparable to the “General Fund” in prior years) and other subfunds designated for a variety of specific purposes. These subfunds are listed and explained in more detail in department chapters, as well as in the Funds, Subfunds, and Other section of the budget document.

Grant-Funded Position

A position funded 50% or more by a categorical grant to carry out a specific project or goal. Seattle Municipal Code 4.04.030 specifies that “categorical grant” does not include Community Development Block Grant funds, nor any funds provided under a statutory entitlement or distribution on the basis of a fixed formula including, but not limited to, relative population.

Line of Business

A group of programs within a department, aligned by common purpose.

Neighborhood Matching Subfund (NMF)

A fund supporting partnerships between the City and neighborhood groups to produce neighborhood-initiated planning, organizing, and improvement projects. The City provides a cash match to the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services, or cash. The NMF is administered by the Department of Neighborhoods.

Operating Budget

That portion of a budget dealing with recurring expenditures such as salaries, electric bills, postage, printing, paper supplies, and gasoline.

Overview and Initial Issue Identification Papers / "Issue ID Papers"

The "Overview and Initial Issues Identification" papers for particular departments are developed by the Council’s Policy Staff. These papers summarize the Mayor’s proposal for expenditures and revenues; describe new programs or initiatives, or reductions to existing programs and services; and identify issues that Councilmembers may want to pursue during the fall budget review process.

Position / Pocket Number

A term referring to the title and unique position identification number assigned to each position authorized by the City Council through the budget or other ordinances. Positions may have a common title name, but each position has its own unique identification number assigned by the Records Information Management Unit of the Personnel Department at the time position authority is approved by the City Council. Only one person at a time can fill a regularly budgeted position. An exception is in the case of job-sharing, where two people work part-time in one full-time position.


A group of services within a department, aligned by common purpose.

Reclassification Request

A request to change the job title or classification for an existing position. Reclassifications are subject to review and approval by the Classification/Compensation Unit of the Personnel Department and are implemented upon the signature of the Personnel Director, as long as position authority has been established by ordinance.


Reorganization refers to changes in the budget and reporting structure within departments.

Request for Information (RFI)

A process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various vendors where formal purchase or RFP will not be required. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes. Please note that an RFI is not part of the formal procurement process at the City.

Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance (RRIO)

The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) helps ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic housing maintenance requirements. The program will educate property owners, managers, and renters about City housing codes and their responsibilities; and require owners to verify their properties meet these standards when registering with the City.


Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority


Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Unreinforced masonry and Rental Registration Inspection Ordinance


Seattle Housing Authority provides long-term rental housing and rental assistance to more than 26,000 people with low incomes.

South Lake Union (SLU)

A neighborhood in Seattle.

State Route (SR)

A State highway and freeway in the United States.

Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI)

A SLI is used for various purposes, including to:

  • explain an action, such as providing a rationale for a budget cut;
  • give guidance for City policy, such as describing how a program is to operate;
  • call for additional study, such as requesting a report analyzing the effectiveness of a new program; or
  • create a work program for a department and/or the Council, such as calling for a study of a new concept or approach.

The City’s central accounting system managed by the Department of Executive Administration.

Sunsetting Position

A position funded for only a specified length of time by the budget or enabling ordinance.

Supplemental Ordinance

The mechanism that Council uses to re-balance current year budget, to take account of unanticipated revenues and expenditures, mostly in General Subfund.

TES (Temporary Employment Service)

A program managed by the Personnel Department. TES places temporary workers in departments for purposes of filling unanticipated, short-term staffing needs, such as vacation coverage, positions vacant until a regularly-appointed hire is made, and special projects.

Type of Position

There are two types of budgeted positions. They are identified by one of the following characters: F for Full-Time or P for Part-Time.

  • Regular Full-Time is defined as a position budgeted for 2,088 compensated hours per year, 40 hours per week, 80 hours per pay period, and is also known as one full-time equivalent (FTE).
  • Regular Part-Time is defined as a position designated as part time, and requiring an average of 20 hours or more, but less than 40 hours of work per week during the year. This equates to an FTE value of at least 0.50 and no more than 0.99.

Unreinforced masonry

City Council

Address: 600 Fourth Ave. 2nd Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA , 98124-4025
Phone: (206) 684-8888
Phone Alt: Listen Line: (206) 684-8566
Fax: (206) 684-8587
Meet the Council

The Seattle City Council establishes City policy through enactment of ordinances (laws) and adoption of resolutions. The City Council also approves and adopts the City's budget. The nine Council members and their legislative assistants are part of the City of Seattle Legislative Department.