City of Portland wins award for timely, transparent financial reporting

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Chief Financial Officer: 'Timely financial data is needed more than ever'

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Movies win Oscars, songs snag Grammys, journalism earns Pulitzers. And the best government financial reports receive the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

The City of Portland recently won this distinction for the 39th year in a row, honoring its 2018-2019 financial report for providing accurate, timely and transparent financial information. The award honors reports that are easily readable and efficiently organized, following best practices and accounting principles.

Here’s why Portland residents should care: Portland is the 25th largest city in the United States, with an annual budget of approximately $4.5 billion. The financial report tells a detailed story about the City’s priorities and financial health, allowing people to track how that budget is invested on behalf of the community.

That’s more important than ever, with the global coronavirus pandemic crippling the economic outlook in the City of Portland and around the world. With a projected shortfall of $75 million for the coming financial year, spending decisions are under increased scrutiny.

“In the current economic climate, timely financial data is needed more than ever to ensure the City can withstand the challenges and continue to meet the needs of those it serves for the years to come,” said Michelle Kirby, the City’s Chief Financial Officer.

Each year, teams across the City of Portland collaborate to create this 360-degree view of the City’s finances. Led by the Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services accounting division, the project pulls in all the City’s bureaus – from police to parks – as well as the City Auditor’s Office and its independent auditors, Moss Adams LLP.

For the past few years, the City has filed its financial report within four months of the fiscal year ending, beating state and industry requirements by two months. While regular Portland residents probably aren’t watching their calendars for the release date, that speedy delivery makes a difference for stakeholders such as investors and bond rating agencies. It also establishes the City as a national leader.

If you’re not ready for a 434-page commitment, consider checking out a user-friendly version of the City’s financial report: the Popular Annual Financial Report. To improve accessibility, this overview of Portland’s finances has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian.

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