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Morrow finance officials receive award

City honored for 17th consecutive year

Morrow City Councilman Mason Barfield shook hands with the town’s Finance Officer, Dan Defnall, and thanked Defnall and members of his staff at the city council meeting earlier this week for “doing everything you’re supposed to do.”

What Defnall and his staff “do” is keep track of city finances well enough to be recognized — for the 17th consecutive year — by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The association, whose membership is made up of state and local government finance officers, bestowed a “Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting” (CAFR) on the city earlier this year.

The award recognizes work done on the City of Morrow’s fiscal year 2010 financial report.

“Dan, on behalf of the council, I want to congratulate you on — once again — doing everything you’re supposed to do, and keeping those numbers going in the right direction,” Barfield, who is also Morrow’s mayor pro tempore, told Defnall and his staff on Tuesday. “We really appreciate all of the hard work you and your staff put in. We know this is not just [because of] you, but [because of] your staff as well.”

Officials from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada explained, in a news release, that the award is significant because it is “the highest form of recognition in the area of government accounting and financial reporting.” They also wrote that “its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”

Defnall explained on Wednesday that the city has been receiving the award, which is handed out on the recommendation of review teams made up of government finance officers from other states and municipalities, since 1994. The award, he said, recognizes that the city has met standards, set up by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, for financial reports.

“It’s basically making sure we’ve got everything in our report that should be in there,” Defnall said.

A 78-page award application check list, obtained from the association’s web site, shows that to receive the CAFR, city and state finance departments much include a long list of items in their financial reports.

Those items range from clearly marking the report as a “comprehensive annual financial report,” to including a copy of an independent audit performed on the government’s finances, to making clear distinctions between basic financial statements, to making sure numbers used in the report are clearly readable.

Reports also must include information that can help a user determine the actual financial condition of the government in question, according to the checklist.

“The [Morrow] CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, including demonstrating a constructive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR,” officials from the association wrote in their news release.

Defnall said much of the credit for the work that went into making sure Morrow’s Finance Department met the association’s standards should be given to his staff, including Accountant Juanita Davis, and accounting clerks Hanh Kim and Van Tran.

“I’m extremely pleased for them,” Defnall said. “They do all of the day-to-day data processing, and help with all of the analyzing of financial statements.”

Morrow’s finance officer said the process of working towards earning an 18th consecutive certificate of achievement is about to begin. He said the representatives from the Macon-based accounting firm, Maudlin and Jenkins, LLC, will arrive in the city on Monday, Aug. 29, to begin their annual independent audit of the city’s finances, for the recently completed fiscal year 2011.

That audit will serve as the basis for the financial report that will be submitted by the city during next year’s certificate of achievement reviews.

“We’re working really hard on No. 18,” Defnall said.