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Denver releases annual financial reports for residents to learn about city’s finances

The Denver Department of Finance has released its 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and 2016 Popular Annual Financial Reports (PAFR) for community members to learn about the city’s finances.

Released annually, the reports provide information about the City and County of Denver’s finances for the prior year, including revenues, expenditures, debt portfolios, and more. The CAFR provides in-depth information about the operations and financial position of the city, is prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S., and is audited by a firm of licensed certified public accountants. The PAFR includes condensed and simplified information from the CAFR and is unaudited.

“The Department of Finance strives to make the city’s finances as transparent as possible. We hope that residents take the time to familiarize themselves with the city’s financial position and learn more about how their taxes contribute to making this a world class city where everyone matters,” said Denver Chief Financial Officer Brendan Hanlon. 

“The CAFR and PAFR offer residents a valuable resource for understanding the city’s financial position,” said Controller Beth Machann. “This year’s reports have a new look and feel than in years past. I think residents will find it to be more engaging and easier to read.”

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada has awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the city for its CAFR for 36 consecutive years. The Certificate of Achievement is a national award recognizing conformance with the highest standards for preparation of state and local government financial reports. Denver has received an award for its PAFR for the last four years, since the report began being issued.

Some takeaways from the reports include:

  • The city’s main source of revenue for operating expenditures is sales and use tax, which makes up 50 percent of total General Fund revenues. This is less than the 70 percent average for most local governments in the region.
  • In 2016, General Fund actual expenditures were approximately $31.5 million less than the revised 2016 budget. This is mainly due in large part to compensation savings and not fully expending fund reserves that can be used in emergencies. 
  • According to standard measures used by the primary credit rating agencies to assess debt, the city’s level of direct debt obligations are considered moderate but manageable compared to similarly sized cities. Rating agencies cite the city’s strong financial management and prudent fiscal policies as credit strengths. As of December 31, 2016, Denver is rated AAA by all three of the major rating agencies: Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s Investors Service.

The CAFR and PAFR can be found on the Department of Finance website