Published on April 20, 2022
City Celebrates 20 Years of Financial Reporting Excellence
When it comes to financial reporting, the City of St. Albert has hit milestone after milestone leading up to this year’s monumental 20th year in a row receiving the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).
This award means a great deal to the City as it is evidence of the level of excellence, consistency, and holistic team effort it takes to produce such an exceptional report year after year.
Ongoing Team Effort
"The team incorporates unique skillsets of individuals from multiple departments to produce the annual report," says Remi Theberge, the Financial Operations Controller - A/P and Treasury in the City's Financial Services & Information Technology department. "Bi-weekly meetings are used for status updates to ensure deadlines are met. Planning is done well in advance, and communication is consistent throughout the project."
Each year, the City improves its financial reporting processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Project management and clear communication are necessary portions of these processes. "The team outlines when key deliverables are required and ensures external parties are aware of these deadlines. They are also aware of their section's impacts on another individual's area, so they communicate the effects of these changes so that everyone is on the same page," says Theberge.
Financial Reporting Excellence
How has the City of St. Albert achieved such excellence in financial reporting for the past 20 years? "City employees continuously strive to learn and grow individually and as a team. We have project debriefs to outline what went wrong so that we can learn from them and adjust our plans accordingly. The team also consistently researches and discusses upcoming legislation and standards so that reporting is up to date with current best practices and accurately reflects the City's economic standing. Compounding all these years of collaboration, review, and learning allows us to maintain the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting," adds Theberge.
The City of St. Albert has also won other awards related to Financial Reporting Excellence. In fact, the City recently received the award for Distinguished Budget Presentation for the 16th consecutive year. "The award represents a significant achievement, and it reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. The entity has to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation," says Anne Victoor, the Interim Director of the Financial Services and Information Technology department.
Collaboration is Key
Once again, this distinction is achieved through a joint effort between both the Strategic Services and Financial Services departments.
"The preparation of the Approved Budget Document for the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is done through a collaborative effort between the departments of Financial Services & IT and Strategic Services & Communications utilizing document sharing software applications. The document must adhere to specific standards and requirements set by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to obtain the award. Part of the preparation includes staff time to review the standards to ensure updates are incorporated," says Suzanne Findlay, the Interim Manager, Financial Services.
The City also receives feedback from GFOA on the document, which includes comments for improvements. "Staff review the comments to determine where revisions and improvements can be incorporated into the next submission. Staff also review other Award recipients' submissions for improvement ideas and are also continually looking to improve the presentation and ease of the document through the use of technology," says Findlay.
Proactive Approach to Reporting
Findlay believes that this achievement has been possible for 16 years consecutively because of staff taking a proactive approach to reporting yearly. "The City takes pride in receiving the Distinguished Budget Award.”
To ensure continued success, staff make a note of possible improvements throughout the year through review of other City publications and other Budget Award submissions and take advantage of webinars/training to understand the criteria requested by GFOA," Findlay says.
Between both awards, one thing is consistent. City staff take pride in their work and the standards that they adhere to with this work. Findlay says that "staff are dedicated to producing the highest quality work and strive to receive the highest ratings possible for each submission."
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Last edited: April 20, 2022