December 6, 2022

City of Prineville recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting

Often when city of Prineville leadership makes a major decision or tackle a significant project, they attribute the ability to do it to a strong financial position.

They talk about their favorable credit rating and their ongoing ability to create a strong budget, which is characterized as a living document, designed to easily convey to constituents how tax dollars getting spent.

That financial strength was once again confirmed in the form of formal recognition. The city recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (COA) for the fifth straight year.

The Finance Department submitted its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020, to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). City officials point out that the Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of general accounting and financial reporting and represents a significant accomplishment by a governmental agency and its management.

City Manager Steve Forrester said the recognition is a testament to the quality of the city’s financial team, adding that its pursuit of the COA benefits the finance department as well as city constituents.

“It is rated by people in the municipal accounting field – experts,” he said. “It (financial reporting) changes. It changes with general accounting principles, gap laws and gap advices from the federal government on how accounting should be done.”

In addition, the standards continually change in terms of how well the public understands the financial documents produced by cities, Forrester said.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 21,000 government finance professionals. An impartial panel judged the city’s financial report against the highest standards for governmental accounting, including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.

“As a city, we strive to produce accurate, timely, and clear financial information to the public,” said Mayor Jason Beebe. “The award from GFOA provides validation that our accounting and financial reporting system meet the highest national standards of communication and accountability to the public.”

Beebe gave high praise to the city’s Finance Department, which is under the leadership of Finance Director Liz Schuette and Accounting Manager Lori Hooper. “The Finance Department takes great pride in its work and ensuring that the city’s finances are open and transparent,” said Beebe.

City leaders went on to note that Prineville’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and thoughtful planning has put the city in a positive position to provide vital services like the new Prineville Police building without going out for a bond and raising taxes. Forrester added that the city’s financial position has been a major factor in street improvement efforts as well as upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure, which have kept rates competitive among Central Oregon peers.

Forrester stressed that getting this recognition for a fifth consecutive year in no way signals that the city has “arrived” or should rest on its laurels. The city will continue to pursue future recognition.”My answer to that would be we are never going to get it right. We are always going to want to improve and communicate better with the public about what’s going on in our city, what our strategies are, what the condition of the finances are,” he said. “This keeps us doing the best that we can possibly do each and every year and doesn’t give us the opportunity to get complacent.”

He added that finance is “always foundational” and without good financial strength, city projects and improvements are not possible.

The city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report can be found on the Finance Department’s web page.

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