Glossary of Terms

The following terms are frequently used in the Annual Town Report and at Town Meeting. In order to provide everyone with a better understanding of the of our Town government, the following definitions are provided.

Available Funds - "Free Cash"

The amount certified annually by the Bureau of Accounts, Department of Revenue. The certified amount is the Unreserved Fund Balance less all outstanding taxes. This fund may be used by a vote of the town meeting as available funds for appropriation.

Available Funds - Other

Usually refers to balances in special funds or to balances remaining in specific articles previously appropriated. These balances become available for re-appropriation by Town Meeting (or are returned to the town's general fund balance).


Improvements to a property or to surrounding infrastructure, such as roads or sewers, that boost the value of a property. Also used to refer to fees paid by property owners who benefit from these betterments.

"Cherry Sheet"

A financial statement issued by the State, at one time on cherry-colored paper, that itemizes state aid due to the town, and charges payable by the town to the state and county

Citizen Petition

An article added to the Warrant for a Town Meeting by 10 or more registered voters of the town.

Encumberment of Money

Money set aside for a specific purpose, which has not yet been spent. Often used for money carried over to the next fiscal year for a project which is not yet complete.

Enterprise Fund

A self-supporting account for a specific service or program that the town operates as a separate "business." Enterprise funds do not depend on taxes for operating revenue. For example, water operations are funded through the water enterprise fund, which receives funds from a consumption based fee system. Ideally, enterprise resources and expenditures should balance over time. Funds in enterprise accounts do not revert to the general fund at the end of the fiscal year.

General Fund

The municipal fund accounts for most financial expenses and revenues approved by town meeting. The tax levy is the principal source of revenue in the general fund.


The overlay is the amount raised by the Assessors in excess of appropriations and other charges for the purpose of creating a fund to cover property tax abatements and exemptions granted by the Board of Assessors.

Reserve Fund

This appropriation is voted at the annual town meeting in an amount not to exceed 5% of the tax levy of the preceding year. Transfers from the reserve fund are approved by the Appropriation Committee and may only be used for "extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures."

Revolving Fund

Revolving funds are used for a particular service. An overall limit on spending is set by Town Meeting but may be subsequently amended by vote of the Select Board and Appropriation Committee. The funds can be used for the service without appropriation up to the approved limit.

White Book

The Town Manager's Preliminary Recommended Budget and Financing Plan, which is submitted to Town Meeting.