Murfreesboro’s Tax and Finance Department won its 14th Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association this year and added its first GFOA Distinguished Budget Award for the FY 12 budget.The announcement was made by James R. Jobe of Jobe, Hastings and Associates, Certified Public Accountants, the firm that conducted the independent audit. “Murfreesboro is one of only a few cities in Tennessee to get these awards,” Jobe told Murfreesboro City Council during its Jan. 10 meeting. “The standards for getting these (prestigious certificates) are way above the normal standards. “We do these (audits) for two main reasons,” he continued. “First, the Tennessee Comptroller requires the audit but it also gives you and the citizens assurances the (City’s) financial condition is sound. “The preparation of this report could not have been accomplished without the efficient and dedicated services of the entire staff of the finance and administration departments,” the audit states. “Appreciation is expressed to City employees throughout the organization, especially those who were instrumental in the successful completion of this report.” The independent auditor’s report indicates the City has received an unqualified, or clean opinion, for fiscal year 2012. The General Fund is the chief operating fund of the City. Overall, the City’s general tax revenue increased $3.8 million, of which 77 percent came from growth in sales tax. Expenditures were $8.8 million less than budget. Most of the department’s operating expenditures remained flat and the City enjoyed lower interest rates for debt service, which reduced the amount transferred to the General Fund by $1.4 million. Long term debt decreased by $22 million during the year. At June 30, 2012, the fund balance was $52.7 million, an increase of $4.3 million. This good news was due to the City’s continued efforts to control costs and growth in our economy. Council member Shane McFarland was complimentary of the staff that made it all happen. McFarland observed the City paid off more than $22 million in debt in 2012. He also pointed out that the City initially budgeted to use more than $4 million of general fund’s fund balance and instead realized budgetary savings that resulted in a $4 million increase to fund balance. “This equates to “about an $8 million swing” he added. McFarland commended not only city manager Rob Lyons but also department heads and city employees “who did more with less and saved the taxpayers a significant amount of money,” he said. Vice-Mayor Ron Washington was equally complimentary, pointing out specific areas of the audit report that display how tax dollars are spent. Vice-Mayor Washington pointed out the financial difficulty of running a government, especially during a recession. He added that in his 14 years of service on the Murfreesboro City Council, he has not yet seen a tax increase. On the city’s website, www.murfreesborotn.gov, find the Open Government navigation bar tab near the bottom. Click on the Financial Reports tab and follow that to the new audit as well as past ones.