CITY EARNS BUDGET AWARD FOR MEETING HIGHEST PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENTAL BUDGETING

Receives Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from Government Finance Officers Association

SOMERVILLE –Somerville’s commitment to the highest principles of governmental budgeting has been recognized in the City earning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, a “significant achievement” according to awarding nonprofit Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).

In earning the award, the City of Somerville met nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. The GFOA reviewers evaluated the City’s FY14 budget, available on the City Finance Department’s webpage, on 27 specific criteria to assess how well the budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and communications device.

Earning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award—the only national awards program in governmental budgeting—requires that the budget is rated as either proficient or outstanding for all four of those categories, as well as for 14 of the 27 criteria identified as mandatory, including a coherent statement of city-wide long-term financial policies and a budget message that articulates priorities and issues for the upcoming year, among other criteria.

When Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone took office, the City’s annual budget document was a 138-page document listing departmental line items with goals and objectives, but no revenue accounts. Today, the City’s budget presentation is a 291-page document that includes a narrative explanation of cost drivers; budgetary changes; a historical spending analysis; detailed revenue and organizational charts; enterprise and revolving funds; and performance metrics, among other details that shape the budget and the City’s long-term financial planning.

“This award recognizes our commitment to transparency, accountability and open government, and to a long-term vision that demonstrates careful financial planning on behalf of Somerville’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Ten years ago, our budget lacked all the necessary details to form a clear picture of where the city has been, where it is and where it is going. We had no detailed capital budget. Today, we put forth a budget that holds us accountable for our performance and details all the factors that go into our financial planning, and we have a five-year capital budget that specifies how we will pay for those improvements and purchases. Taxpayers deserve to know exactly how their money is being managed by the City, how City Hall is operating and how we are planning for the future. Our budget provides that clear and transparent picture to all taxpayers, and the GFOA has recognized it.”

The City of Somerville previously earned the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting from the GFOA in October 2013 for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), which demonstrated a spirit of full disclosure and motivated people to read the report. The nonprofit awarded the City the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, its highest recognition, after an impartial panel judged the City’s CAFR as meeting the high standards of the program, specifically the spirit of transparency and full disclosure that is a core value of City Hall under Mayor Curtatone.

The GOFA is a nonprofit professional association serving over 17,800 government finance professionals throughout North America and established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program in 1984, to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the highest quality, reflecting national guidelines and best practices. According to the most recent award recipients listed on the GFOA website, in 2012 there were 16 Massachusetts agencies including 12 municipalities that received the award. For budgets including FY 2013, approximately 1,340 entities from across the U.S. and Canada are expected to receive the budget presentation award.