No financial background needed

New report helps the public understand City’s budget, spending

COVINGTON, Ky. – Year in, year out, the City of Covington’s Finance Department receives an award for its financial reporting, courtesy of the Government Finance Officers Association.

But the document that wins the award – the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report – is 177 pages long and filled to the margins with columns, charts, and numbers decipherable only to accountants, auditors, bond counsel, and Wall Street.

In fact, that’s who the ACFR is intended for.

But to average Covington citizens who just want to know whether their City government is on sound financial footing and is paying its bills, the ACFR might as well be one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Enter the Popular Annual Financial Report.

Produced for the first-time ever by the City’s Finance Department, the 9-page document provides an assessment of the City’s financial condition (as of the end of the 2022 fiscal year) in a way that is easy to digest.

“I wanted to have a financial report that is consumable to citizens and stakeholders who are not finance professionals,” Finance Director Steve Webb said. “The whole goal of ‘transparency’ falls apart if the information isn’t easy to understand, so that’s what we focused on doing.”

The PAFR – pronounced “PAFF-er” as the acronym suggests – includes graphics detailing how the City’s revenue streams are generated and spent, a comparison of actual spending vs. proposed spending, definitions of fund balances, key takeaways from the 2022 Fiscal Year (which ended June 30, 2022), and a breakdown of the current fiscal year’s budget.

In a media release about his hiring written in October 2022 – ‘Good with math,’ process oriented – Webb listed the report as one of his priorities. He said the Finance Department planned to produce the PAFR on an annual basis, soon after the end of each fiscal year.

“Members of the public deserve and need to know what’s doing on with their City government,” he said.

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