BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County has received the Triple Crown Honor, the highest award of the Government Financial Officers Association (GFOA) in recognition of three other prestigious financial awards the County earned this year.
Chief Financial Officer Helen Perraglio discussed the awards Tuesday evening during the Los Alamos County Council virtual meeting.
“We have received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for our FY2020 budget, which according to them reflects the commitment of the government body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. This is the 28th year that we received this honor and we really want to thank all the staff, department heads, management and Council for participating in the budget development and our amazing finance budget staff, Karen Kendall and Yvette Atencio for preparing our distinguished budget book,” Perraglio said.
The budget document is the finished product of the efforts from all County staff who participate in its development.
“We start working on this as early as December and collaborate with so many staff within the departments,from the entry of the projections to all the meetings on the key programs and projects and all of those details that have to be worked out until the budget is ultimately adopted by Council,” she said. “We are really grateful to have the leadership of (Deputy County Manager) Steven Lynne and his institutional knowledge of the County’s budget and all the processes that go into it, and especially to our County Manager Harry Burgess who guides us through this rigorous effort so we can all share in this honor.”
The County was also awarded a GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its FY2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
“The GFOA states that this is the highest form of recognition in the area of government accounting and financial reporting and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. This is the 29th year that we received this honor. We really appreciate all the annual efforts of all County staff that adhere to our sound controls,” Perraglios said. “I especially thank our finance accounting team led by Melissa Dadzee, our deputy CFO, for their commitment and effort to file our CAFR in-house. We’re particularly fortunate to have this in-house knowledge on our finance team in adherence to really strict accounting standards that are set by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and produce the results in the form of this annual financial report.”
She said staff dedicates a tremendous amount of time and long hours, weekends and everything else it takes to maintain all operations and undertake the annual CAFR.
“From the start of this operation in July when we close out a fiscal year to the end of November – it takes that many months to close out the audit and close the books and do the CAFR. So it really is a significant undertaking and we as a county are truly fortunate to have such a dedicated team to accomplish this,” Perraglio said.
The County also received the GFOA’s award for Outstanding Achievement in popular annual financial reporting for its FY2019 CAFR. The requirements are based on evaluation of information presented, reader appeal, understandability, distribution and other elements of highlighting some of the key items from the CAFR in a condensed and more user friendly readable format. This is the fourth year the County has attained this award and the fourth year the County has produced the CAFR and participated in the program.
Perraglio said the staff didn’t know the Triple Crown Award existed until they received a letter. All GFAO awards attained are national recognition which is something to be really proud of, she said.
The County also received a Certificate of Continued Excellence from New Mexico Counties in conjunction with the State Auditor, recognizing continued audit achievement and financial management excellence for the FY2019 audit.
“This is the fifth year that we have attained this. In order to have few or no findings, it really takes strong internal controls and a commitment from all levels of our countywide team to adhere to these. Our finance team administers several key policies and standard operating procedures in all area of financial management, from the entry of the adopted budget to the procurement of the goods and services under the procurement code, and the payment of our suppliers and the payment of our employees,” Perraglio said. “We do this across all departments and for a multitude of business operations through functional user groups, trainings and a great deal of communication amongst all of our teams through expanded management and senior management.”
She noted that the buy-in, cooperation and teamwork that occurs on a daily basis is really instrumental in contributing to the success and it should be shared countywide.
“We want to highlight that group effort and the recognition of the County as a whole ,” she said.
Team members are:
Helen Perraglio, Chief Financial Officer
Melissa Dadzie, Deputy Chief Financial Officer
Mauricia Chavarrua-Quam, Accounting Operations Manager
Karen Kendall, Budget and Performance Manager
Beatrice Odezulu, Senior Management Analyst
Zhenyan Liu, Accountant
Yvette Atencio, Senior Budget Analyst
Julie Brothers, Accounting Operations Manager
Sonya Ortiz, Senior Accountant
Nicole Avila, Payroll Specialist
David Griego, Senior Management Analyst
Nicholle Cordova, Accounts Payable and P-Card Administrator
Rebecca Andrus, Accounts Payable Coordinator