The award is for the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
“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,” said a press release from the association.
It goes on to say, “The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, including demonstrating a constructive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential use and user groups to read the CAFR.”
Finance director Teri St. James said the city’s CAFR was submitted to a panel of GFOA judges for review, with each getting an individual copy. “They review it and give an opinion.”
This is the first time the city has been awarded a certificate, but the second time they have submitted a CAFR. “We submitted the one from last year, but we didn’t get one. But they did list some changes we could make that would better meet the requirements.”
A CAFR is different from a regular annual audit in that it is much larger and more detailed. “The GFOA requires a lot more information in a very detailed, specific format,” she explained. “You either meet it or you don’t.”
St. James added the certificate is a comment only on the completeness and transparency of the city’s financial record keeping, not of the city’s finances themselves.
When City Manager Brian Muenger announced the award during Monday evening’s City Council meeting, he said only between 12 and 15 municipalities in Alabama had ever gotten a certificate, and Talladega was by far the smallest.
The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finances with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.