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Posted on: March 3, 2017

City Council Receives Overview of City’s Finance and Administration Operations

The City Council received a post-biennium overview of the City’s Finance and Administration department’s operations at its Feb. 28 meeting. The operational review followed the City’s biennium close budget review, which demonstrated a $1.8 million positive fund balance increase over projections.

Under Finance and Administration Director Peggy Lauerman, who assumed her role in May 2016, the department’s operations are being streamlined to provide financial integrity, ensure appropriate internal controls, and implement industry best practices and LEAN principles.

“Changes within the Finance and Administration department played a significant role in overcoming a $2.4 million projected budget shortfall,” said City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto. “Peggy saw inherent process weaknesses in our financial operations and is implementing new processes to ensure ongoing success.”

In the last 18 months, City staff implemented automated processes that eliminated large amounts of paper records, reduced staff time needed to process cash receipting and facilitated easy record reconciliation. Financial accounting methods were updated to reflect an accurate picture of City revenues and expenditures.

The City continues to implement disciplined approaches to fiscal and administration management. One-time revenues are now reserved for one-time expenses instead of being added to the operating budget. New financial statements are in development to reflect current financial reporting trends. HR and payroll processes are being updated to resolve issues that have been unchecked for a number of years, such as removing former employees from benefit packages; those processes also are being updated to maximize the functionality of the City’s modern payroll system implemented in 2016. Internal controls also are being implemented to safeguard financial functions.

While changes implemented to date helped produce the results shown at the end of the biennium, the City still has much work to do. “We are making decisions now that impact the 2019-2020 budget and beyond,” Polizzotto noted. “We are called to be good stewards, not just for the current budget cycle, but to position the City for strategic and sustainable growth for years to come.”

Another task underway includes updating the City’s financial policies. “Some of these policies are 20 to 25 years old,” said Lauerman. “In a financial context, they are not relevant to today and have a significant financial impact.”

Polizzotto noted that as the City matures, it is no longer sufficient for Finance and Administration staff to simply pay the bills. “Financial planning, careful administration and long-term analysis are absolutely essential,” she said. “Through continuous improvement, we are setting the standard of excellence for how local government should operate.”

Listen to the full financial review presented to the City Council on Feb. 28.

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