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Norwalk’s budgeting prowess earns city award

Norwalk Finance Director Thomas Hamilton Feb. 19 2013 185

Norwalk Finance Director Thomas Hamilton explains his operating budget recommendations to Common Council members recently.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s budget planners have been crowing: Last year’s budget efforts have been recognized as “distinguished” by an international organization.

The city’s 2012-2013 budget has been awarded a Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, Mayor Richard Moccia announced in a press release. It’s the 12th year Norwalk has received the honor.

Finance Director Thomas Hamilton forwarded the email to members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and other city officials Tuesday.

“It is very flattering to see Norwalk held up as a national role model for municipal budgeting!” BET Chairman Fred Wilms said in an email.

Common Coucilman Nick Kydes (R-District C) was not so proud.

“Great job, but I still think we need to reduce the budget and reduce the burden on the taxpayers,” he said in an email.

Moccia said that of more than 87,000 local governments in the United States, only 1,238 received the award in 2012.

GFOA said guidelines for the award include:

• A policy document

•  A financial plan

•  An operations guide

•  A communications device

Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four categories, and the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

“It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting,” GFOA is quoted as saying. “In order to receive the budget award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for budget presentation.”

Moccia recognized Director of Management and Budget Bob Barron, Assistant Director of Management and Budget Donna Castracane and Executive Secretary Lola Grey for their work.

BET member James Feigenbaum was excited about the recognition.

“WOW!  These types of accolades/ awards by “National’ peer organizations hopefully will resonate with our fellow Norwalkers, particularly during these tough financial times,” he said in an email.”Kudos Tom, to you and your outstanding staff—nice to have  a ‘positive’ that everyone can rally around and make our city proud.”

9 comments

Bruce Kimmel March 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

My congratulations to everyone involved in the production of the various budget documents. They are well organized, easy to follow and comprehensive. I should also point out that this year’s BOE budget documents are the best I’ve seen in years.

Deemooo March 7, 2013 at 10:35 am

“WOW!” says BET member. Self-congratulations are in order – LITERALLY.

A trade association gave Norwalk an “award” for “[preparing] budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.”

In other words, any member of the trade association who applies for the “award” and prepares its budget in the way that the trade association itself recommends get an “award.”

Deemooo March 7, 2013 at 10:37 am

I should add that it appears there was a $550 fee to apply for the award. I wonder who paid that?

PParkington March 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I’m sure the budget presentation was just lovely, had all the bells and whistles visually needed to catch the judges eyes….too bad that’s where it stops.

According to Blum Shapio, the BOE auditors, the city and the BOE lack the ability to compare actual expenses to budget, so great it looks nice and all, but does it serve the department heads funtionally?

Wonder if they also have an award for that?

Bryan March 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm

PParkington, the overal presentation of the documents is what was considered. The tracking of actual expenses to budgeted items on a timely basis is what is at question from the audits. Timliness isn’t a factor here, but I agree that is the most critical aspect missing from our financial functions right now. We need tighter controls. Based on what I’ve seen from Hamilton’s reporting prowess, I think he will be able to design and implement these recommendations effectively once they are provided.

Deemooo March 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

“Moccia said that of more than 87,000 local governments in the United States, only 1,238 received the award in 2012.”

You APPLY and PAY for the award. This statement doesn’t mean anything unless 87,000 local governments applied and paid for the “award.”

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