Unrestricted Net Position

Source: Individual Government ACFRs
Latest Data: 2022
Release Timing: Following Year
Frequency: Annual

In general, a positive balance in unrestricted net position represents the amount of money available to be used to meet a government’s ongoing operations costs. In rare instances, some, if not all, of the positive unrestricted net position exists because the estimated value of a retirement plan’s assets is higher than the projected benefit payments. However, because the plan’s assets can only be used to pay retirement benefits, these assets cannot be used by the government.

Unrestricted net position may be a negative number to the extent that a government has elected to fund certain long-term liabilities, such as compensated absences and pensions, as they come due rather than when they are incurred. These are costs that have been pushed onto future taxpayers and the amount is similar to Truth in Accounting’s “money needed to pay bills.”