(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 and the Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have been working together supported by the County Road Administration Board and the Washington State Association of Counties to eliminate duplicate reporting. Currently, counties and cities in Washington State are required to submit an annual street report to WSDOT in June. The data reported in this street report is duplicative of revenues, expenditures and debt information reported to the State Auditor’s Office in the annual financial report submission due at the end of May. Many counties and cities have requested to only submit this information once; we are working to make that happen. Continue reading
The Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS) roundtables are underway in various locations all over the state. Discussion in these free three hour meetings presented by the State Auditor’s Office, includes many topics such as: Information on changes to the BARS manual, a preview of requirements for upcoming GASB standards, demonstration of the Financial Analysis Tool (FIT), and discussion of other valuable resources and trainings free to local governments. We held the roundtables last year all across the state, and were very pleased to see the high turnout and interaction from participants. This year, we changed the roundtable format slightly to encourage even more in-depth interaction, as we value your opinions.
Roundtables are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and network with peers. Plan to come and share your ideas and suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you about how we can better be of help and improve to our services. The roundtables continue through December 15, 2016 in various locations and space is available so please check the upcoming schedule and sign up for one near you.
As a partner in the Government Performance Consortium (GPC) initiative, we are excited to share with you a mini-documentary about the first Love of Cities Tour in Washington State, which has sparked tremendous excitement across our state for new ways to connect cities and citizens in co-creating more vibrant, healthy and resilient communities. 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
Understanding a government’s financial health can be complex. A variety of financial ratios and indicators can help officials monitor their government’s financial status, but no single indicator, grade or score gives a complete representation of the government’s situation. That is why the Local Government Performance Center at the Washington State Auditor’s Office has developed a Financial Intelligence Tool (FIT) to help officials regularly assess and monitor their government’s financial health. Continue reading