News Column

B-SB budget officials aiming for 25th award

February 4, 2014

By Mike Smith, The Montana Standard, Butte

Feb. 04 -- Butte - Silver Bow is aiming for its 25th consecutive distinction for thorough and complete reporting of its government finances, a feat that saves taxpayers money through lower interest rates. "When you have this certificate and you go out for bonding, you will have better rates," said county Finance and Budget Director Jeff Amerman . "It shows a level of professionalism and excellence that translates monetarily." The Government Finance Officers Association , a nonprofit association serving about 17,500 government finance professionals nationwide, gave Butte - Silver Bow a "Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting " for the 24th straight year last fall. The distinction was for the county's comprehensive annual finance report for 2012, a 220-page document that explains the county's expenses and revenues and has numerous comparisons over a 10-year period. The certificate is the association's highest form of recognition for financial reporting and meeting standards that include a constructive "spirit of full disclosure." Amerman said the distinction is like the "gold standard" for government financial reporting. The distinction precedes him and covers several budget directors over the past 24 years. Last year's award was presented to Amerman and Steve Descharme , assistant finance and budget director. The 2012 report is accessible via the Butte - Silver Bow web page. Amerman said government units have to apply for the award and the reports are reviewed by a team using strict criteria. Even so, Amerman's office is moving to a new way of presenting budget information that should be easier for the general public to understand. It is part of Chief Executive Matt Vincent's effort to make the local government here more transparent. The new approach, called a performance measurement budget, will include program descriptions and the goals and objectives of expenses. "What this will do is inform the public of both what you are doing, how well you are doing it and how much you are doing it," Amerman said. He said it will also give Butte - Silver Bow employees a chance to demonstrate more of what they do. "We're always fighting the idea of two guys leaning on a shovel and one guy supervising them," Amerman said. "There is a lot of work going on and this gives folks a chance to show that." Reach Smith at or 406-496-5511. ___ (c)2014 The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.) Visit The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Montana Standard (Butte)

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