COCOA – Cocoa residents will now have an easier time understanding their city’s finances, according to the results of a recent award.
On Nov. 12, the city announced that it received a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association – a professional organization representing public finance officials throughout the United States and Canada.
The recognition was for the city’s Fiscal Year 2019 Adopted Budget, which covers October 2018 through September 2019.
This is the fifth such honor the city has ever received, but its first in more than 20 years.
“The city is very pleased to have obtained this prestigious award for the first time in 22 years for our budget document from GFOA,” Finance Director Rebecca Bowman said.
“Achievement of this award demonstrates the city of Cocoa’s commitment to high quality financial reporting and transparency,” Mrs. Bowman added. “Appreciation and gratitude are extended to the dedicated staff who made this award possible.”
The Adopted Budget includes two components: a budget book showing the numeric aspects of the budget, and a budget document with verbal explanation detailing policies, goals, the local economic climate and more.
For the FY 2019 year, officials revamped the budget document to include more explanation and reasoning, said Samantha Senger, assistant to the city manager and public relations specialist.
“When you are applying for this award, there are certain things that are required to be included which help make the document more user friendly,” Mrs. Senger said.
“So in the past our budget document may have been harder for a citizen to understand and actually use,” Mrs. Senger continued. “Now there are things included in the document that weren’t before that make it a more user friendly, understandable document.”
Among other features, the new budget document shows how the city collects revenue, where the revenue comes from and how it is allocated, Mrs. Senger noted.
The document also details the city’s debt and revenue policies, and has an appendix that describes the way the budget is developed.
Officials closely followed the award’s stringent guidelines during the revamping process to achieve the desired transparency.
“In order to receive the budget award, the city had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation that assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device,” a news release notes. “Budget documents must be rated ‘proficient’ in all four categories, and in the fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.”
The Government Finance Officers Association announced the award Aug. 26 and city staff presented it to the City Council Nov. 13.
To view the Adopted Budget, visit www.cocoafl.org/174/Finance.