Recently, the Performance Center provided several resources on accounting for capital assets to help local governments with financial reporting. Another group of assets, which fall below a government’s capitalization threshold, should also be considered when establishing and evaluating asset policies and other internal controls. In Washington, we frequently refer to these as “small and attractive assets,” but they these could be described using different terminology. For example, the Government Finance Officers Association refers to them as “controlled capital-type items” in its best practice guidance. Continue reading
Counties use property tax levies to collect funds for county roads. State law
(RCW 36.33.220) allows counties to divert a portion of these funds to the current expense fund. This must be done through a Board resolution, and the funds can be used for any service to be provided in the unincorporated area of the county. However, to be eligible for Rural Arterial Program funding (see below), counties must use the diverted revenues only for purposes of traffic law enforcement and must complete a certification attesting to this fact. It is important to note that this requirement is only applicable to counties with a population greater than 8,000. Continue reading
As a part of our continuing commitment to making information about local government operations around the state more transparent and accessible, we have updated the look and feel of our Local Government Financial Reporting System, or LGFRS. Our Office has long provided unaudited financial data filed by local governments on our website via LGFRS. This same tool has a new look and is now even easier to use and understand. Continue reading
Are you reporting your activities in the correct fund type? Local governments should analyze the services they are providing and determine if the fund types used are appropriate.
An enterprise fund is a fund that may be used to report any activity for which a fee is charged to external users for goods or services. Continue reading
Many local governments use a third-party receipting vendor to provide electronic payment options to their constituents. Best practice – and state law (RCW 39.58.080) – require local governments to have all funds directly deposited into their Public Deposit Protection Commission (PDPC)-approved bank account. Continue reading
Implementing effective internal financial policies can be challenging for local governments of any size, which is why the Performance Center teamed up with the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) to simplify the process. This new online database for financial management policies includes best practices, real-world comparative tools and more—all designed with local government needs in mind.
The tools available on MRSC’s website are meant to be responsive to the complex internal financial considerations of any local government—from the largest cities to the smallest mosquito districts. Using these tools, local governments will be able to get a handle on their financial resources and implement policies that provide value to the community, protection to their employees, and reduce financial risk. You can access the database here.
If after going through all these resources, you still need help or have questions, our Performance Center team is here for you. You can reach us at (360) 725-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Repost from MRSC’s blog. Original available here.)
By Toni Nelson, MRSC
Financial policies are an essential component of any local government’s financial health, but financial policy needs vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Different types of entities (cities, towns, counties, and special purpose districts) have different needs depending on size, scope of activities, organizational and staffing structures, contractual and program structures, and the governing body’s values and priorities. A boilerplate, one-size-fits-all approach will not work – but how do you know what policies you need, or what approach is right for your jurisdiction?
Well, MRSC is here to help! Working in partnership with the State Auditor’s Office Local Government Performance Center, we’ve just launched a series of online resources to help local governments in Washington State develop and adopt effective financial policies and procedures, as well as complying with SAO’s policy requirements as currently prescribed by BARS and recommended during audits. Continue reading
The State Auditor’s Office is responsible for examining the financial affairs of all local governments in the state. We conduct more than 2,000 audits of local governments each year. Using the results of those audits, our Office then evaluates the overall patterns and that were reported. The audit exception that has been identified most frequently in the past several years is a lack of internal controls over accounting and financial reporting. Continue reading