Garfield County receives national finance award for the third year

Updated February 2, 2012

The Garfield County Finance Department has received national recognition for the third year in a row for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Certificates of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting are presented by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada to government units and public employee retirement systems whose comprehensive annual financial reports achieve the highest standards in government accounting and financial reporting.

This prestigious award requires that organizations supplement their financial reports with data and research to provide a wider scope of information contained in an annual financial report. In 2011, of the 64 counties in Colorado, Garfield County was one of only 17 counties to receive the award.

“The requirements for the award get tougher every year and are designed to promote openness and full disclosure to the public,” said Garfield County Director of Administrative Services, Lisa Dawson. “Meeting the standards established by GFOA helps us develop a consistent format for communicating our financial bottom line.” Garfield County’s award-winning CAFR includes information such as property tax rates, principal taxpayers, demographics and economic statistics, as well as an overall report on the financial activities of the county. “We aim to provide as much information as we can to the citizens of Garfield County about our finances.” said Dawson.

For the awards, Government Finance Officers Association staff and members of the GFOA’s Special Review Committee perform reviews of submitted CAFRs. The review committee is comprised of individuals from government, the public accounting profession, and academe who possess specialized expertise in governmental financial reporting, typically as a result of either preparing or auditing a CAFR that has received the Certificate of Achievement. Reviewers are never selected from the same state as the CAFR being reviewed, or from the same firm that performed the independent audit.

Garfield County’s CAFR audit firm is McMahan and Associates, LLC. “We help with standards, preparing disclosures and reviewing the disclosures the county provides,” said Paul Backus, a partner in the audit firm.

“Our audit and opinion get attached to the final report after we have verified these numbers,” he said. “Our firm brings four Certified Public Accountants to Garfield County for a few weeks, and we dig through records to verify its accuracy. We then offer an opinion on the financial statements and submit the finished CAFR to GFOA, whose committee reviews it again. The work greatly exceeds general accounting principles and Garfield County has been incredibly diligent in making sure it has first rate financial reporting.”

The Garfield County Finance Department is supervised by Dawson, who has a Master’s degree in Accounting and Financial Management. The department has two CPAs, Cathleen Van Roekel and Bob Prendergast, as well as six other staff members. Dawson began as Finance Director with Garfield County in late 2008, won the award the first year afterward, and each year since.

“I am fortunate to have a high caliber of staff in the Finance department. The award, which we have received for our annual budget book as well, is public recognition of their top-quality standards,” said Dawson. “I am proud of them, and I appreciate their efforts to meet one of our primary goals: providing excellent customer service to the citizens of Garfield County.”

The award-winning CAFRs have been available on this website at for the past three years, along with financial statements for four years prior to that.

December 5, 2011

Garfield County Finance Department received notification of winning a government accounting award for the third year in a row

The Garfield County Finance Department has received the prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. The award was given for the 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which is the annual financial report for Garfield County.

This award is the highest form of recognition in government accounting and financial reporting, and signifies that Garfield County is clearly communicating its financial bottom line to the taxpayers of Garfield County.

The requirements for the award become tougher every year, and are designed to promote openness and full disclosure to the public. This is the third consecutive year that the award has been presented to Garfield County. The 2010 Garfield County CAFR is available online here.

GFOA is a professional association of approximately 17,500 state, provincial and local government finance officers. GFOA is recognized as the leading source of expert knowledge in public financial management. The purpose of the Government Finance Officers Association is to enhance and promote the professional management of governments for the public benefit, by identifying and developing financial policies and practices and promoting them through education, training and leadership.

Finance awards