City Finance Director honored
September 28, 2019
The Finance Department of the City of Tehachapi recently joined the ranks of local award winners.
A very excited Hannah Chung found out at the beginning of September that she had been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for her Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018 from the Government Financial Officers Association. The 18 member Executive Board of the GFOA bestows this certification on those they feel go above and beyond basic financial statements. The GFOA is the largest financial organization in the United States and includes Canada. The CAFR program began in 1945 to encourage governments to go beyond minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles when preparing annual reports and to honor those that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.
Hannah has been the Director of Finance for the City of Tehachapi for the last 20 years and over that time has kept track of every cent that the city earns, spends or borrows and prepares an extremely comprehensive annual financial report at the end of each fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30 every year. Hannah said that she had wanted to submit a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to the GFOA for many years but added that the report required 10 years of data and she always found the project a bit overwhelming. However, the auditor who reviews the city records encouraged her to go for it because her work always resulted in such a clean and well prepared document. He did caution her that the award is very hard to get on the very first submission. When she reviewed the 80 pages of guidelines and noted that they even included recommended wording, all she could think was, "What did I get myself into?"
The CAFR Program requires that reports to be considered be submitted within six months of the end of the fiscal year and Hannah's 115 page report was submitted at the end of December 2018. The review period typically takes from 4 to 6 months, and it was 9 months from submission that she was notified she would be receiving the award. What made the award doubly sweet was the fact that it typically goes to bigger cities. Now that she has a template, Chung said she plans to make a submission every year.
Hannah Chung said that for many years she was kind of a one-man-show at the city with occasional help but no real staff. She and her staff are now a department of six and they deal with records for transit, personnel, public works, safety and risk management in addition to other normal City business. All of this information is compiled in the end-of-year financial report. Mid-year audits are completed in the fall and at the end of the year. Hannah had the auditor review all the items on the checklist and made sure they looked at policies, as well. Chung said that policies are also reviewed to be sure they are reflected in the report. "I have a very good staff," said Hannah with pride. City Treasurer Susan Showler agrees, remarking that this award is well deserved and past due.
"I couldn't be more proud of Hannah and her department and the way they handle our money," said City Manager Greg Garrett. "The people who work for our city have deep rooted honesty and commitment. This is all very exciting."