Here's a little supplemental information:
According to the State's definition, “Free Cash” means
Unrestricted funds from operations of the previous fiscal year that are certified by the
Director of Accounts as available for appropriation. Remaining funds include unexpended
free cash from the previous year, receipts in excess of estimates shown on the tax
recapitulation sheet, and unspent amounts in budget line-items. Unpaid property taxes
and certain deficits reduce the amount that can be certified as free cash. The calculation
of free cash is based on the balance sheet as of June 30, which is submitted by the
community's auditor, accountant, or comptroller.
Here are Newburyport’s figures for the end of these Fiscal Years. The dip in Free Cash in 2004 correlates to big drops in Local Aid from the State.
Of the 351 communities at the end of FY2010, 12 communities had negative Free Cash meaning they spent more than they took in….not good.
For FY 2011 Newburyport looks to have $1.5M certified which is an improvement in the raw number. However, our % of Free Cash compared to the overall budget (or roughly $1.5M/$49.1M=3%) will still be slightly less or close to the State average.
So the wild spending spree may need to be put on hold.
You can get all your own gory details at the State website: