County earns award for budget book

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County won its fifth award in a row for how it presents the budget.

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada gave the county its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fiscal 2015 spending plan. Jon Munch, president of the Virginia Government Finance Officers Association and finance director for Fauquier County, presented the award to county officials and the Board of Supervisors this week.

The GFOA established the award in 1984 with the goal of encouraging state and local governments to deliver high-quality budget presentations, Munch told the board.

“When your document is submitted to the GFOA, it runs through a gamut of different evaluations, some in the area of policy, financial operations and communications – just the way the whole thing is assembled,” Munch said. “There are actually 27 different criteria so it is very, very rigorous.”

Reviewers rate the budget for its presentation as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. The document must achieve at least a “proficient” rating in all four categories to receive the award.

“In this particular award … you can’t just do it one time and do the same thing year after year and expect to receive the award,” Munch said. “There’s always changes in best practice … changes in the ways that budgets are required to be presented and there’s also changes in just the global economy, the economy of the locality, the economy of your state, the pressures that are on to do the right thing in budgeting.

“So it really is a testament to the board and county administration and finance all working together to produce a high-quality document for your citizens to be able to understand what’s going on and priorities you’re placing on the public’s money,” Munch added.

The association also presented a certificate of recognition for budget presentation to Finance Director Carolyn Stimmel, head of the Finance Department. Stimmel made improvements to the finance document each year as part of an effort begun years ago to revamp the budget book.

Stimmel plans to retire this spring.

The Government Finance Officers Association is a nonprofit professional association serving nearly 18,000 appointed and elected local, state and provincial-level government finance professionals and other finance practitioners.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com