Cleveland earns GFOA’s budget award 16th year
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Mar 19, 2014 | 438 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEVELAND MAYOR Tom Rowland holds the Distinguished Budget Award surrounded by other city officials, government staff and City Council members. Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
CLEVELAND MAYOR Tom Rowland holds the Distinguished Budget Award surrounded by other city officials, government staff and City Council members. Banner photo, JOYANNA LOVE
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Cleveland has received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 16th consecutive year.

“To produce a document that is useful to our citizens and other organizations takes a lot of time and effort by our department heads, budget officers, finance team and City Council,” said Shawn McKay, municipal finance director. “The award from the GFOA recognizes that it isn't something that happens without hard work, cooperation and dedication by all of the people involved.”

The award is given to governments that follow the organization’s guidelines for compiling and presenting the budget in an understandable way. The guidelines make the budget document more than a list of numbers on a page. Guidelines include dividing the budget into sections by department, supplying graphs and explaining the relationship between personnel and funding.

The organization rates the budget in four categories: a policy statement, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device.

“To receive the award, a budget document must be rated either proficient or outstanding by at least two of the three reviewers for all four basic categories, as well as for 14 of the 27 specific criteria identified as ‘mandatory,’” McKay explained.

These requirements include a table of contents, a goals statement, explanation of factors affecting budget decisions, a statement of priorities and organizational chart.

McKay said in addition to the ranking, feedback is given to help the city further improve the budget presentation.

The award was announced at a recent meeting of the Cleveland City Council, and was for the 2013-14 budget year.

The next budget planning process is fast approaching, as the City Council will review requests from department heads during a meeting Monday.

The award was created to encourage a uniform method of budget presentation throughout the country.

According to the GFOA website, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program was created “... to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting, and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.”