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Finance director leads Herriman to several awards

Jul 06, 2017 04:44PM ● Published by Tori LaRue

Alan Rae, holding two certificates, poses for a picture with his family, Herriman administrators and city council members after being honored at a May 10 meeting. (Herriman City)

The Herriman City Council had much to congratulate the city’s finance director on during the month of May. Alan Rae led the city to two prestigious budgeting awards while also finishing his Master of Business Administration and becoming a certified public finance officer.

“I am equally as honored as I am proud to give this award,” City Manager Brett Wood said on May 10 as he recognized Rae for helping the city achieve the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. “I see this man here put in lots of hours for our city. When it is budget season, I see the long days and nights that he comes back into the office to make sure that our budget is ready. He has set a high standard.”

The excellence in financial reporting award intends to honor governments that go beyond the minimum requirements of accounting principles to fully disclose their budget to the public. To receive the recognition, certified reviewers must see that a city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, meets 109-pages worth of criteria.

“Not every city dares to put in for the award because there’s so many stipulations it has to meet,” said Herriman public information officer Tami Moody. “But we’ve started to do it for transparency to let the public know your budget has been reviewed thoroughly not just by the council but by an entire review board.”

The Government Finance Officer’s Association deemed about 438 cities in the nation “excellent.” Thirty-four of Utah’s 245 cities, including Herriman, received this honor.

In addition to the CAFR award, Rae’s department also received CFOA’s “Distinguished Budget” award on May 17. The city council and Wood recognized Rae for this at the May 24 council meeting.

This is the third year in Rae’s three years at Herriman City that he’s led Herriman to these designations. Prior to working for Herriman, Rae worked for Ivins in Washington County for six years where he also claimed the awards each year.

Before Rae was hired, Herriman administration did not win these awards because it did not create a detailed record like the CAFR, which was 137 pages last year. Instead, the budget was simplified and consisted of mostly spreadsheets, according to Moody.

The finance department still creates spreadsheets for a one-glance look into the city’s financial status, but Rae has also implemented the CAFR and a more detailed budget that’s available for the public to view.

To help increase transparency, Rae gave Herriman’s first ever Government 101 class about the city budget in January. He explained how the city’s budget works to Facebook viewers and an in-person audience.

“He’s done an excellent job of increasing the transparency of the city money—where they are generated from and where they spent,” Moody said. “This can just give more peace of mind to our public that the information is accurate and transparent.”

And although Rae is proud of the CAFR and budget awards that the city received, partially from his work, he said finishing his public finance officer certification is his “biggest accomplishment.”

“There are only 8 (certified public finance officers) in the state besides me,” he said. “I am the ninth one.”

Rae described the certification as an “intense process” that required him to take and pass five four-hour tests. Each test subject came with about 10 books of recommended reading.

Rae began working on these tests in Ivins, where the city requested he take two of the tests. Because he’d already started the process, Rae said he decided to study for the last three exams to officially become a certified public financial officer. Now, seven years later, he accomplished that goal.

“I can tell you, it was a major relief when I got the last test result,” he said. “It is one of those things where, if they never gave (the certificate) to me in council, I would have been just as satisfied with what I’d accomplished. I didn’t need to get in front of people for recognition.”

The Herriman City Council adopted Rae’s budget for the 2017-18 year on June 7. For more information on current or past budgets, visit https://www.herriman.org/transparency/ and click on the “current budget” tab. 
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