The City of Clinton has received the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting for the sixth straight year, city officials have announced.
It is a coup that once again allows the city to show its citizens that an immense amount of planning goes into ensuring that tax dollars are being accounted for in a fair manner and that the city’s Finance Department is doing things right.
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada has announced that the City of Clinton and its Finance Department has received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its annual budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015. The award, GFOA and city officials stated, represents a sizable accomplishment by the city.
In order to receive the award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan and as a communications device.
“We are pleased that GFOA has recognized our budget presentation for the sixth consecutive year. A great deal of effort is put into it each year, and that is the basis of the city’s budget planning success,” City manager Shawn Purvis said. “The award recognizes the presentation of our efforts and our ability to share our vision and communicate with our community.”
Although the finishing touches are done in the finance and administration offices, the budget is an organization-wide effort, Purvis noted. From December through June, every department is evaluating needs and proposing options to go before City Council.
“The award reflects the tremendous amount of time and effort staff puts in to ensure we operate and plan effectively,” Purvis stated.
The award will be formally presented at tonight’s (Tuesday) City Council meeting. Special recognition will be given to Finance director Kristin Stafford and the Finance Department for their efforts in this year’s budget development. Stafford began working at the City of Clinton as accounting operations manager in 2010. Last year, she was promoted to finance director.
The GFOA praised Clinton and others, noting that the budget award recognizes those staffs that go above and beyond in budget planning. For budgets beginning in 2014, over 1,491 participants received the award.
“Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America,” stated the GFOA, which serves roughly 18,300 government finance professionals throughout the continent.
Its Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting and recognition is given as part of that program to those government entities meeting the highest of standards.
“It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting,” the GFOA stated. “In order to receive the budget award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.”
Those guidelines are designed to assess how well a budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four categories, and the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories to receive the award.
“We hope citizens will realize the wealth of information in the budget document,” Purvis stated. “The document represents City Council’s decisions and direction based on their communication with our community.”
Flipping through the budget document, citizens will be able to see what programs and projects receive priority based on their collective feedback. That is reflected in the budget each year, with scoring criteria broken down and a Capital Improvement Plan for large projects included and continually updated as an accompanying plan to the overall budget.
Purvis said that the city’s budgeting efforts will only continue — and continue to improve.
“We expect to bring the document to an even higher level in the coming years as we expand our strategic planning performance measurement initiatives to demonstrate our effectiveness and efficiencies,” the city manager said.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.