A departmental revolving fund is a place to set aside revenue received, through fees and charges, for providing a specific service or program. The revenue pool is, in turn, a source of funds available to use by a department without further appropriation to support the particular service or program. Most frequently, cities and towns create general departmental revolving funds under M.G.L. Ch. 44 Sec. 53E½. The fund is created with an initial Board of Aldermen authorization that identifies which department’s receipts are to be credited to the revolving fund and specifies the program or purposes for which money may be spent. It designates the department, board or official with authority to expend the funds and places a limit on the total amount of the annual expenditure. To continue the revolving fund in subsequent years, annual approval of a similar article is necessary. Managers are also required, each year, to report on the fund and program activities.
Under Sec. 53E½, any expenditure from a revolving fund is restricted to the then current fund balance or to the authorized spending limit. If a revolving fund balance remains after total spending has reached the authorized limit, the balance carries over to the next fiscal year. Interest that accrues on a revolving fund balance under Sec. 53E½ reverts to the general fund. However, if the revolving fund is not reauthorized, any remaining balance closes to free cash, unless it is transferred by the legislative body to another revolving fund.