How Local Government Finances Work

How Local Government Finances Work

Understanding how the city allocates and spends money can be complicated.  In addition to the resources available at Budget Revealed, below is an explanation of how the annual budget process works. The City of Dover operates on a fiscal year calendar, which begins July 1.

How It Operates


The City of Dover, like all municipalities, adheres to accounting practices specific to government. The formal process includes recognizing public support for services and infrastructure, as well as following the spending and taxing authority outlined in the budget. There are notable differences between public- and private-sector financial practices, specifically openness and transparency, which are hallmarks of the public sector. Access to regular financial reporting reflects a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate and educate the public about the financial condition of its government.  Dover continues to be recognized for excellence in this area. Governmental accounting standards provide the basis for tracking and reporting financial performance. Public priorities are articulated, debated and ultimately decided by representatives elected to serve on both the School Board and City Council. financialstructure-funds.jpg

The overall financial structure of the City consists of several separate funds. The following funds fall under the umbrella of

Governmental Funds:


General Fund
The General Fund covers the cost of many City services supported mainly by property taxes, including Police, Fire, Human Services, Community Services and Education. 

Special Revenue Funds
Special revenue funds include state and federal grants, the parking activity fund, the residential solid waste fund, the McConnell Center and recreation funds.

Capital Projects
Capital projects account for acquisition or construction of major capital facilities. For example, this includes the General Fund projects of each year's Capital Improvements Program. Another example is the Tolend Road Landfill Closure Fund. It excludes capital projects accounted for by Proprietary Funds (see below).

Proprietary Funds

Proprietary funds use the accrual basis of accounting and budgeting, except that budgeted capital outlay items are treated as assets for accounting purposes and not reflected as expenditures.

Enterprise Funds
Enterprise funds include services primarily funded through user charges. These include the City's water and sewer funds, as well as the Dover Industrial Development Authority fund. This category also includes internal service funds, including fleet services, DoverNet, worker's compensation and Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB).

Internal Service
Internal service funds account for services provided to various departments of the City which are reimbursed. This includes the Workers Compensation Funds, the Fleet Services Fund, Central Stores and the 457 Deferred Compensation Fund. 

Fiduciary Funds


Trust Funds
Trust Funds account for money held by City trustees to meet the intended purpose of the trust instrument. These include expendable and non-expendable trusts. Expendable trusts can spend the principal for the intent of the trust, such as the Motor Vehicle Waste Reclamation Fund. Non-expendable trusts can spend only accumulated income. These make up the majority of Trust Funds and include the Cemetery Perpetual Care and Maintenance funds.

Agency Funds
Agency funds account for money held by the City acting as an agent to individuals, private organizations, or other governmental units. An example is performance bonds held for specific purposes or the Cocheco Riverwalk Fund.