The Washington County Board of Commissioners received a report on the annual financial audit of the county Jan. 4, and accepted several awards for financial reporting.

The annual financial report for 2020 highlights showed that the county’s net position increased by $56.9 million, driven by investments in capital assets, a reduction in bonded debt, intergovernmental funding and investment returns.

The county’s unrestricted fund balance increased, while expenditures also increased, because of large increase in intergovernmental revenue and strong investment performance in the general fund. The county has approximately six months of expenditures in the fund balance.

The county’s summary financial statement will be published in the county’s official newspapers, the Country Messenger and the Stillwater Gazette. It will have charts of the county’s 2020 revenue and expenditures, fund financial statements, and a statement of the county’s fiduciary net position. It will also list any disbursement of funds of more than $5,000.

The board received the Government Financial Officers Association Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for the county’s 2019 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the GFOA 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting.

This is the 35th year the county has received the award that is intended to recognize and encourage excellence in financial reporting by state and local governments.

Of Minnesota counties, 20% received the award, and nationally, fewer than 20% received it. The award has a direct impact when rating agencies assess the county’s financial practices during the bond issuance process.

The board also received the second GFOA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award.

This report is designed to be readily accessible and easily understandable to the general public. It aims to reduce jargon and technical language, and includes charts and graphs to assist users in understanding the county’s financial position, according to a press release from the county. Of the 87 counties in Minnesota, five received the award; nationally, just more than 3% received the award.

The board also received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the county’s 2021 Budget. The award marks the 24th year of receiving the award. To receive the award, the budget document is submitted to the GFOA and goes through peer reviews to determine if the document quality meets nationally recognized standards for effective budget presentation. The document must meet all 14 criteria. The award program began in 1998 and is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.

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