City Beat

City Beat: Fresno financial report could stir council debate

File photo of Fresno City Hall, where a hearing will be held Thursday on a plan to hike water rates.
File photo of Fresno City Hall, where a hearing will be held Thursday on a plan to hike water rates. THE FRESNO BEE

The Fresno City Council on Thursday will get the Mother of All Paragraphs.

It could set the stage for a very interesting council debate, especially in light of the Measure G outsourcing election on June 4.

The council at 8:45 a.m. is scheduled to receive the City of Fresno Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

This is the so-called CAFR, City Manager Mark Scott's favorite acronym. In government jargon, it's pronounced "caf-fer." The council gets one every year.

A budget is an educated guess about what City Hall expects to get and spend in the coming year. The CAFR explains the city's financial shape on a given date.

Budgets get all the limelight. Scott in his three years at City Hall has been trying hard to give the CAFR its due.

The FY 2012 CAFR was prepared by an outside accounting firm -- Macias Gini & O'Connell, LLP. Karen Bradley, the city's assistant controller, wrote the staff report accompanying the 300-page CAFR. She discusses something called GASB 56. This stands for Governmental Accounting Standards Board statement No. 56.

"It should be noted that the Auditor's Opinion on the CAFR ... contains a Going-Concern paragraph," Bradley writes. "GASB 56 requires that financial statement preparers (the City) as well as its auditors have a responsibility to evaluate whether there is a substantial doubt about the governments' ability to continue as a going concern for at least twelve months beyond the financial date. Moreover, if there is information known to the government that may raise substantial doubt shortly thereafter (for example within an additional three months), this should also be considered. Both City Management and the City Auditors concur on the necessity of the Going-Concern paragraph ...."

The CAFR's "Going-Concern" paragraph is actually 14 paragraphs containing a total of more than 1,200 words.

Read more on the City Beat blog.