Local Government 111.5 – Sidney’s Award-Winning Finance Department

By Mike Barhorst

Barhorst

In my last article about the city’s budgeting process, I promised to write about the many awards our Finance Office continues to receive.  Those awards are well deserved, and are derived in large measure as a result of the city’s budgeting process, and the record keeping required by the processes that are in place.

The Auditor of State recently completed its audit of the City of Sidney’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2016.  It was another successful audit as the City’s financial statements received an “unqualified opinion”.

An unqualified opinion, sometimes called a “clean” opinion, means that the financial statements fairly present the City’s financial position, changes in financial position and cash flows.  As a result of this audit, the City will be presented with the Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction during the September 5 Council meeting.  The city has received this award from the Auditor of State since 2004.

Governmental entities can receive this award if they meet the following criteria of a “clean” audit report: 1) if they filed timely financial reports with the Auditor of State’s office in the form of a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report; 2) if there were no findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, significant deficiencies, Single Audit findings or questioned costs; and, 3) if there were no management letter comments related to: a) ethics referrals; b) questioned costs less than $10,000; c) lack of timely report submission; d) reconciliation; e) failure to obtain a timely Single Audit; f) findings for recovery less than $100; or g) public meetings or public records violations.

The Government Finance Officers’ Association, a national organization, recently presented the City of Sidney with the Government Finance Officers’ Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the city’s 2017 Budget.  This marks the 19th consecutive year the city has been so honored.  The award represents a significant achievement by the City of Sidney.  It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.

In order to receive the budget award, the city satisfied nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.  These guidelines are designed to assess how well the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device.

Based on the most recently published Government Finance Officers’ Association statistics, Sidney is one of 18 other Ohio cities and one of 28 governmental entities in the State of Ohio to have received this budget award.  (The only other Miami Valley cities receiving this award are Kettering and Middletown.)

For the past 18 years, the city has received the Government Finance Officers’ Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

In order to be awarded a Certificate of Achievement, a government must publish an easily readable and efficiently organized comprehensive annual financial report.  This report must satisfy both accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and applicable legal requirements.  Based on the most recently published Government Finance Officers’ Association statistics, Sidney is one of 126  Ohio municipalities and one of 304 governmental entities in the State of Ohio to have received this award.

For those who may wonder, there are 932 municipalities in the State of Ohio (251 cities and 681 villages).  Thus the Government Finance Officers’ Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting is only presented to 13.5% of Ohio’s municipalities.  Less than 2% of Ohio’s municipalities earn the Government Finance Officers’ Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award!

Like everything else that happens in Sidney, good financial reporting is a team effort.  I would be remiss, however, if I did not single out Finance Officer Ginger Adams, who has served the City of Sidney since 2002, Assistant Finance Officer Renee DuLaney, who has been with the city since 2006, and City Manager Mark Cundiff, who has been with the city in his current capacity since 2012, for special recognition.  In addition to the department heads, the truly heavy lifting associated with the city’s budget processes falls on their shoulders.