City of Toronto

Glossary of Terms

Agency - An agency is an organization associated with the City, but operating at arm’s length. An Agency usually operates under a Board of Management appointed by City Council.

Amortization – The value of an asset as it ages over its lifespan. Depreciation is another commonly used term to describe the amortization of assets.

Approved Complement - The number of staff needed to provide a City service. The number of approved positions includes permanently appointed or filled on an acting basis, and funded vacancies.

Approved Position - is equivalent to a single permanent position regardless of whether it is full-time or part-time. This is sometimes called an FTE (Full Time Equivalent). Some positions are based on a 35 hour week and some on a 40 hour week.

Assets – City resources such as land, buildings, vehicles, cash etc. The City writes off the cost of physical assets such as land holdings and buildings in the year it's acquired.

Assessment – Value of property determined by Municipal Property Assessment (MPAC) and used by the City to calculate property tax.  Find out more about MPAC here.

Balanced Budget – When revenues equal expenditures the budget is balanced.  The City is required to balance its budget every year according to the City of Toronto Act, 2006.

Benchmarking - A way to compare one organization’s results to another similar organization.

Budget Committee - The standing committee of City Council which reviews and recommend the budget. This includes Capital and Operating Budgets, variance reports, and adjustments to budgets during the year. The Committee also plays a key role in coordinating the budget process and submitting a final budget to Council for its consideration.

Capital Budget – The Capital Budget is adopted by Council with capital projects for the current year and a plan for the following nine years. The multi-year plan covers longer term and one-time costs for fixed assets worth more than fifty thousand dollars, and the City's debt.

Capital from Current (CFC) - Funds from the current Operating Budget for the funding of capital projects in the Capital Budget.

Capital Project - A capital project is a one-time expenditure with a well-defined set goals that pays for major rehabilitation, replacement or expansion of existing assets and infrastructure, or acquisition or creation of new assets. It must benefit the organization for at least 10-years, usually cannot be changed, and investments are over $50,000. There are 5 types of Capital Projects (listed here in order of importance): Health and Safety, Legislated/City Policy, State of Good Repair, Service Improvement and Enhancement, and Growth Related.

Cash Flow Carry Forwards - The unspent amount of a Council approved budget from a previous year that is carries forward to complete the capital project in the next budget year.

City of Toronto Act, 2006 – Passed by the Province of Ontario in 2006 which provides the City a legislative framework more in keeping with the City’s responsibilities, size and significance. The Act endorses a mature relationship with the province and the City’s authority to enter into agreements with other governments, including the government of Canada.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – An increase in salaries to offset the adverse effect of inflation on compensation.

Debt - The amount all costs (interest and principal) from borrowing money, including debentures, promissory notes, leases, letters of credit and other financial commitments and guarantees.

Debt Charges – The amount of principal and interest payments necessary to retire outstanding debt arising from capital expenditures.

Debt Financing - The amount of capital project gross cost that is to be financed with long-term debentures.

Debentures - A long-term loan usually repayable at a fixed date, with a fixed rate of interest. Most debentures are secured on the City's assets.

Development Charges – Charges imposed against new residential and non-residential development and the primary source of funding for growth related capital projects such as the road network, water and sewer. The rates are based upon a Council approved Development Charge By-law.

Efficiencies - Measure of productivity based on dividing the quantity of output by the quantity person hours or dollars.

Expenditures: Includes all payments for goods and services made by a City division or agency.

External Financing - Financing from sources external to the City of Toronto (such as Provincial or Federal subsidy, Corporate Sponsorships, etc.). It includes debt financing.

Fiscal Policy – Policies for revenues, spending and debt management for government services, programs and capital investment. Fiscal Policy provides an agreed-upon set of principles for the planning and programming of government budgets and their funding.

Fiscal Year – The 12-month operating year for accounting and budgeting purposes in an organization. The fiscal year for the City is the calendar year (January 1st to December 31st).

Infrastructure: Physical assets used to deliver services including roads, bridges, water filtration plants, subway lines, streetcars, buildings, civic centres, libraries, public housing units, land improvements, vehicles and equipment.

Fixed Assets – Assets that are long-term in nature that are intended to continue to be held or used, such as land, buildings, machinery, furniture, and other equipment.

Gas Tax – A share of Provincial and Federal gas tax that is transferred to municipalities to fund public transit systems and other infrastructure.

Grant - A contribution to the City from a federal or provincial government to support a particular function, service or program.

Health and Safety - A capital project in urgent need for repairs due to concerns of a health and safety hazard.

Legislated or City Policy Expenditures - Capital Expenditures required by Provincial or Federal legislation or City Policy (i.e., environmental initiatives).

Liabilities - Financial obligations of the City to others.

Mature Budget Process - A multi-year budget process that uses priority setting, service reviews and public consultations, to link allocation decisions with results and outcomes.

OMERS – Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. OMERS is a defined benefit plan that provides pension benefits to full-time employees. Employees and employers make equal contributions to the plan.

Operating Budget - The financial, operating and management plan the City establishes each year to fund for short term expenditures of up to one year for City programs, services and activities.

Other Revenue - Represents all revenues other than property tax, provincial and federal grants, interdivisional recoveries and prior year’s surplus. Other Revenue is made up of user fees, fines, interest earnings, and revenues from any other source.

Performance Measure: Performance measures help us understand, manage, and improve City services by looking at: How well we are doing; if we are meeting our goals; if clients are satisfied; if and where improvements are necessary; and if our processes are comparable to others.

Cluster/Division/ Program/Service – The City has three groupings or "Clusters" of Divisions, and each Division is responsible for specific programs. A program area may have several services.

Projected Actuals - Refers to the expected, or anticipated, outcome of the year’s expenditure and revenue activities. Divisions adjust and update the projected actuals throughout the year which are then compared with the current year's budget to determine and report on any variances or changes.

Rate Supported Programs: City Programs funded by user fees based on usage or volume. Examples include water, garbage pickup, disposal and recycling, and the Toronto Parking Authority.

Replacement Cost - Is the cost of replacing the original asset on the basis of current prices (cost). It is not related to the original cost.

Reserve / Reserve Funds - Reserves and reserve funds have designated purposes and are created by Council. All earnings from the investment of reserve funds go to the reserve fund, but the earnings from reserves flow to the operating budget. The assets of reserve funds are segregated and restricted to the purpose of the reserve funds.

Revenue - Income received by the City for the fiscal year including tax payments, user fees, transfers from other governments, fines, interest income, etc.

Service Level - Service Level express the amount or standard provided the public. The level may be processing time, how often it is provided, how much of it is delivered, or against a level of need (e.g., number of subsidized day care spaces for the number of children in low income families).

Service Improvement and Enhancement - A capital project which improves service delivery above Council's approved standard or introduces a new service.

State of Good Repair - Capital projects may need maintenance or repair to extend their useful life by 10 or more years before replacement is necessary. Replacement is considered if rehabilitation is not possible or if delaying results in potential safety hazards (then categorized as “Health and Safety”).

Surplus - Results when expenditures are lower than budgeted or revenues are higher than budgeted. Surpluses must be fully used in the next year to reduce the amount raised through taxes.

Tax Rate: A rate used to determine the amount of property tax payable for various property classes.  Taxes on individual properties are calculated by multiplying a property’s current value assessment (CVA) by the applicable tax rate.

User Fees and Charges - Includes all fees and rental revenue for the use of City services (such as the TTC fare, ice rental fees and various city permits). Donations are not included. See Rate Supported Programs above.

Variances – City Programs and agencies detail all year-over-year changes, greater than $250,000 or 5% of total gross expenditures and explain the reason if the change is due to service levels, objectives or funding requirements.


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