By Nick Marnell
The Moraga-Orinda Fire District continued its march toward total financial transparency by contracting with OpenGov, a Redwood City consulting company, to produce software that allows complete access to district financial and budget information on the MOFD website.
For years the district struggled through major financial crises, including the miscalculation of a pension for its retiring fire chief, the discovery of a $2 million error that reduced its general fund, and the recognition of an unfunded pension and retiree health care liability that hovered near $100 million. On top of that, thanks to the Great Recession, came the property tax crash. Because revenue was not covering expenses, MOFD was forced to consider an action it had never proposed in its history: laying off firefighters.
In 2013 the turnaround began. MOFD fired its auditor, hired a new administrative services director and the following year appointed a financial manager to its board of directors. Working in a much improved economic climate, the district was able to not only balance its budget but also secure a 10 percent general fund reserve and reduce its unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities to $65 million. With better news came better reporting, and the MOFD Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, produced in 2014 and 2015, won the Government Finance Officers Association award, presented to agencies that produce easily readable and efficiently organized financials.
The OpenGov financial software, unveiled at the district’s Nov. 16 board meeting, could win an award from the public based on its ease of use. Administrative services director Gloriann Sasser led the audience through the new software presentation of district financial accounts, including current and historical revenues and expenses, plus assets and liabilities. Pictured is the chart showing projected revenue for the current fiscal year.
To navigate the new software program, hover on the About tab on the MOFD website home page, then click the Financial Transparency heading. Complete instructions on how to use the software, along with Frequently Asked Questions, are posted there.
“It’s terrific,” said director Brad Barber, and Barber would know, as he is the financial manager appointed to the board in 2014.
Published: November 30, 2016
Source: MOFD Steps Up its Financial Transparency