Lakewood Department of Finance Receives Ohio State Auditor’s Award with Distinction

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A triple crown of awards and accolades was recently bestowed on Lakewood’s finance department.

Not only did the city receive the Ohio Auditor of State’s Award with Distinction for its financial reporting – which only 3% of Buckeye state governments can boast – but the department for the first time since 2007 received a Distinguished Budget Government Presentation Award. Association of Financial Officers.

“When the state auditor comes to check the books, he’s usually here from January through June to review your financial records,” Lakewood Chief Financial Officer Peter M. Rancatore Jr. said.

“If you don’t have any kind of findings or remarks or anything regarding the reconciliations, you might be eligible for the award.”

Lakewood was also featured in the August 2021 edition of Government Finance Review for its budget process.

“It’s validation of the incredible work our finance team does at City Hall and an affirmation of the seriousness with which we all take stewardship of precious public funds,” said Mayor Meghan George.

“My administration makes the management of taxpayers’ money a top priority. I view fiscal responsibility and transparency as essential pillars of how Lakewood operates. »

As for the Ohio Auditor of State’s Award with Distinction, it is awarded selectively to the few government entities that meet the auditor’s rigorous criteria for financial reporting and record keeping.

“This award is not easy to get,” said George. “The Ohio Auditor is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies, but Lakewood is one of 19 public entities to receive this award in 2021.

“Those who receive the awards must meet a strict set of criteria to obtain a ‘clean’ audit report. This is a high bar that demands the utmost professionalism in financial reporting and operational performance.

City Council Speaker Dan O’Malley added, “This award confirms the city’s excellent stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars.

“I am very proud that the State Auditor recognized our excellent financial practices and recorded transparency. Everyone at City Hall, and especially our finance department, deserves congratulations. »

It’s also worth noting that the state auditor gave Lakewood its highest transparency rating of four “STARS” in its review that analyzes how the city responds to requests for public records.

“It’s the kind of transparency review that auditors prefer,” Rancatore said. “We got the highest score. When I talk about transparency, I’m talking about requests for public documents.

“We have an elaborate system that they follow, and our legal department is very sharp. It’s the best system I’ve ever seen. I know the mayor worked on this as an advisor, along with (general council representative) Tristan Rader.

The CFO also wanted to thank the city’s administrative finance team – Deputy CFO Keith Schuster, Jessica Eddy, Kim Deyarmin, Paul Namitka, Irene Drazen and John Hribar – for their hard work in preparing the budget. and compiling financial reports. .

“Any great maestro relies on great musicians in the orchestra to make everything happen,” Rancatore said. “That’s what I have here.”

The mayor thanked the finance department for their efforts, which have a direct effect on the city’s bottom line.

“Our city’s bond rating benefits from this high level of performance, which in turn reduces the interest rates we pay when we need to issue bonds for capital needs, infrastructure or other costs,” George said.

Analogous to a sports team that just won a championship, Rancatore said his department took a moment to celebrate before getting back to work.

“We are working on the next report,” Rancatore said. “That’s all we can do. You are only as good as your neighbour.

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