(City of Trail image)

Trail draws interest to ‘Annual Report’ with reader-friendly format

City receives third award for financial reporting; goal is to engage more readers

For a third consecutive year, the City of Trail has received recognition for excellence in financial reporting.

But in laymen’s terms what does this mean for everyday citizens, if anything?

Backtracking to 2016, the city began using a new software format that was much more “reader-friendly” in its annual report on municipal finances. The yearly summary was no longer simply numerical tallies transcribed into context through black and white print.

In efforts to engage all residents, not just the number nerds (as in a single-minded expert in a particular technical field), the report was given colour, photos, and a purview that is generally quite interesting for any reader to browse through at their leisure on the city’s website.

The inaugural newly-formatted report was titled Pathway to the Future, in reference to the new build, the Columbia River Skywalk. The following year the report was named, We’re on our way, in reference to the new airport terminal at Trail Regional Airport. Then in 2018, the Trail Sk8Park graced the cover with the title, Shaping our community.

This was all done not only to engage residents, but also to increase transparency in a document that hopefully more people would read.

“The city’s annual report was previously focused around the audited financial statements and would likely have been considered a ‘dry’ read,” explained David Perehudoff, chief administrator.

“While the audited statements remain an integral part of the report, there have been significant enhancements made to the annual report that provides considerably more information,” he said.

“Based on comments and feedback received, it is believed that more people are taking a look at the report although we do not have any empirical data to support this.”

He says the annual report not only provides important financial information, but it now contains a myriad of new content that includes particulars about various community activities, capital projects, civic operations, supporting statistics, and plans going forward.

“The report looks back and celebrates accomplishments, but also considers the future direction and priorities of the city going forward,” Perehudoff said.

“Trail citizens may want to spend some time reviewing the report as part of understanding where their tax dollars are being spent, and what the current priorities are should any member of the public wish to provide feedback,” he added.

“The end goal is to enhance accountability and transparency for the benefit of the reader of the report.”

The City of Trail announced on Tuesday that for a third straight year it had received the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting (CAnFR) by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its 2018 Annual Report.

The document was judged by impartial Canadian Review Committee members to meet the high standards of the program the city said, adding, “including demonstrating a constructive spirit of full disclosure designed to clearly communicate the municipality’s financial story and to motivate potential user groups to read the report.”

The theme of the 2018 report was chosen to represent Trail’s ongoing drive to building and maintaining new infrastructure while creating a welcoming and inclusive community.

In addition to the financial and statistical information presented in the document, the report also offers messages from the mayor and administrator, project and community highlights, staff profiles, council’s strategic priorities, municipal objectives, and a detailed financial services summary.

“Staff have already started compiling the 2019 report,” Perehudoff concluded. “Once it has been inspected by the public and approved by council, it will be submitted for consideration for the 2019 CAnFR award.”

The 2018 Annual Report can be viewed at www.trail.ca/Reports.

About CAnFR:

The Canadian Award for Financial Reporting award was established to encourage municipal governments throughout Canada to publish high-quality financial reports and to provide peer recognition and technical guidance for officials preparing these reports. Receiving this award represents a significant accomplishment by a municipal government and its management.

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), founded in 1906, represents public finance officials throughout the United States and Canada. The association’s more than 19,400 members are federal, state/provincial, and local finance officials deeply involved in planning, financing, and implementing thousands of governmental operations in each of their jurisdictions. GFOA’s mission is to advance excellence in state and local government financial management. GFOA has accepted the leadership challenge of public finance. To meet the many needs of its members, the organization provides best practice guidance, consulting, networking opportunities, publications including books, e-books, and periodicals, recognition programs, research, and training opportunities for those in the profession.

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