Jennifer Evans instrumental in city receiving financial reporting award

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
The city of Cassville received a coveted financial reporting award the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting thanks to the work and efforts of City Clerk and Finance Officer Jennifer Evans. Pictured in photo is City Administrator Steve Walensky with Evans. Contributed photo

City given highest recognition in governmental accounting

Jennifer Evans, Cassville city clerk and finance officer, was the recipient of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award for her work with the city.

The award is given to the individual or department designated by the government as primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

The certificate was awarded to the city by the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. Its receipt represents a great accomplishment by a government and its management.

"Jennifer has earned this very prestigious award for Cassville," said Steve Walensky, Cassville city administrator. "Her solid work, skill and professionalism coupled with her training have been the deciding factor in this coveted recognition by the GFOA. As indicated, this is the highest form of recognition in government accounting and reporting. The CAFR is sought after by many cities, so to have received it here in our community speaks volumes for Jennifer's expertise."

Part of Evans' duties as finance officer is to prepare financial statements for the city auditor.

"Precise and transparent financial reporting is one of the key foundations to the success of any city," Walensky said. "I want to congratulate Jennifer for her success, and thank the GFOA for awarding this honorable Certificate of Achievement to the City of Cassville."

The award is a first for the city, and took time and effort.

"The city had never done one before," Evans said. "So, our auditor, Marshall Decker of Decker & DeGood, encouraged me to do the report. A couple years ago, I did my first one and submitted it to the GFOA, but didn't get the award."

However, the report was reviewed and Evans was given valuable feedback, which she immediately applied.

"I took notes and revamped the report, and this year, we got the award," she said. "The comprehensive report is not required by cities, but it adds great value to a city's financial profile. It's a feather in the cap for the city, and sends the message to bond agents that we are financially sound to borrow money. It's like a good credit rating, when you can show outside entities you have a good handle on your finances.

"The city is in very good financial shape. The council and the mayor are committed to using resources wisely and listening to citizens. Being fiscally responsible is very important to them."

Putting in the effort to achieve the award was a challenge she was interested in taking on, Evans said.

"I'm very proud of working with our auditor, who helps me do the financial statements," she said. "The report is basically showing that it's important to accurately portray the financial circumstances of the city and be good stewards to residents. And when you look at them, you can be assured they are a true and accurate representation of the city."

Government accounting is very different than corporate accounting, Evans explained.

"Government accounting breaks everything down so you can see where the money comes from, and where it goes," she said. "This means that whatever money is collected in those particular revenue streams has to be spent for that area.

"For example, we have a half-cent storm water tax, so when you go to the store and buy something, the funds for that tax has to go only to that, and must be shown in financial statements. The CAFR not only shows those types of expenditures, but has a statistical section that tracks trends and demographics so you can see an overall 10-year picture of the city's finances and health. So you can get a solid picture of the health of the city."

The CAFR is judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive spirit of full disclosure to clearly communicate its financial story, and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

A copy of the report can be found on the city's website, along with the 109-page criteria used to judge it.

Evans has worked for the city since 2013, and has been a long-time performer and musician of HomeTown Sound & The RedHots, and the group's annual fall performance of "The Show," which benefits the local community.

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