City of Columbia says unrestricted funds differ from unrestricted cash

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COLUMBIA - According to the Columbia's Comprehensive Financial Annual Report, the city's unrestricted net position of unrestricted funds increased by $13 million.

City of Columbia Assistant Finanacial Director, Lynn Cannon said the increase is due to "sound financial management".

"Departments have tried to really fine tune their expenditures," Cannon said. 

This increase might indicate the city has a lot of money, but Mayor Bob McDavid said the unrestricted fund balance can be confusing. 

"Well that's confusing because we can't do whatever we want with that money,"McDavid said. "It includes money we can't spend or money we have already spent."

McDavid said this "might make the number look big".

The city categorizes unrestricted funds according to the standards established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.

GASB defines unrestricted funds is defined as any net assets not invested in capital assets or restricted by external sources. 

This means money that does not qualify as a capital assets or restricted by an external source is counted in the unrestricted funds number even though it has a restricted purpose. 

For example money that is owed to the city, money set aside for projects previously approved by Council, prepaid items and inventory are included in the unrestricted funds number.

This money has a predetermined use but is still counted in the number.

Unrestricted cash, however, is the money the city has on hand to spend on daily operational expenses. 

The infographic below shows the unrestricted funds for all city enterprise agencies. The money on the right is the total unrestricted fund balance $104,330,506, but after subtracting all the different categories within unrestricted funds, the true unrestricted cash total is $14,027,346.