Calera wins GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer 

CALERA – The city of Calera received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association at a city council meeting on Monday, June 17.

With this award, Calera joins the ranks of six other cities in Alabama to be recognized by the GFOA, along with Alabaster, Auburn, Foley, Gulf Shores, Tuscaloosa and Vestavia Hills.

The Government Finance Officers Association is comprised of more than 22,500 members which represent financial departments from communities across the United States and Canada.

One such member is the city of Alabaster’s Finance Director John Haggard who serves as a volunteer budget reviewer for the GFOA and presented the award to the city of Calera’s Finance Director Kelly Ellison.

“The GFOA instituted the Distinguished Budget Award in 1983 as a means of encouraging state and local governments to produce the highest quality budget documents for their citizens and constituents,” Haggard said. “Only those budgets that are deemed to meet the standards of the GFOA are awarded the Distinguished Budget Award.”

In order to qualify for the award, entities—such as the city of Calera—send a budget document to the GFOA which is then judged in four categories which each contain 14 mandatory criteria within those categories.  The four categories assess how well the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communication device.

In Haggard’s opinion, the Distinguished Budget Award means that a city is producing the highest quality information about its budget and how the city chooses to allocate tax payer money.

“Really, what the budget award—I think—signifies is a commitment to transparency for all governments that participate,” Haggard said. “The GFOA, and other advocates for local governments such as myself, really feel that by doing this, it helps engender a lot of trust between the constituents you serve and the government.”

Calera Finance Director Kelly Ellison shared that the city chose to submit its budget for review by an independent panel to hopefully show the community that the city of Calera implements sound budgeting practices.

“First of all, I hope receiving this awards tells the public that we are committed to transparency,” Ellison said. “But most importantly, I thought it was a perfect time to highlight the sound budgeting practices put into place years ago by the city that resulted in the positive state that we are currently in.”

According to Ellison, the city of Calera has made vast improvements in its budgetary practices in the past decade.

“In 2008, I was concerned about the future finances of our town,” Ellison said. “I heard rumors that the city was having cashflow issues. The rumors were unfortunately correct and there was a subsequent large layoff in January 2009. In the last 14 years, the city has transitioned from struggling to make payroll to financing a new fire station and downtown renovation project, all without incurring debt.”

Ellison also wanted to thank the individual department heads that comprise the city government for their cooperation in assembling the budget document.

“I don’t think we stress enough what a great job our department heads do,” Ellison said. “I want to take this opportunity to thank you guys. I really appreciate your help.”

The city of Calera’s budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year is presented in digital format. Those interested in viewing the budget can visit City-calera-al-budget-book.cleargov.com/11928.

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