Frequently Asked Questions

What is the function of the City Controller?

The City Controller serves as the City's Chief Financial Officer and is responsible for ensuring that the assets of the City are properly accounted for and expended in a manner consistent with applicable laws, policies, plans and procedures. To accomplish this goal, the City Controller performs various functions including but not limited to the following:

  • certifying the availability of City funds prior to Council approval of City commitments,
  • processing and monitoring disbursements which total 2.4 billion dollars annually,
  • investing the City's funds,
  • conducting internal audits of City departments and federal grant programs,
  • operating and maintaining the City's financial management system,
  • conducting the sale of the City's public improvement and revenue bonds, and
  • producing a comprehensive annual financial report.

Does the City Controller vote on issues before City Council?

No. Although an elected official, the City Controller does not vote on matters presented to City Council. The separation of powers among the City Controller, the City Council and the Administration was established in the charter to enable the City Controller to function independently from the other branches of City Government.

What makes the City Controller independent? Why is it important for the Controller to be independent?

The City Controller is an independently elected officer who neither reports to the Mayor nor to City Council. Being an independent officer permits the Controller to provide the Mayor, City Council and department management with independent analysis, appraisals, and recommendations concerning the adequacy and effectiveness of the City's internal control structure, effective safeguarding and utilization of City resources and management's performance in carrying out assigned responsibilities.

When does the City's fiscal year begin?

The City's fiscal year begins on July 1st of each calendar year and ends on June 30th of the following calendar year.

What is the difference between a performance audit and a financial audit?

A performance audit focuses on identifying operational processes to determine whether or not management is performing its duties economically and efficiently and to determine if the programs are achieving their intended purposes. Performance audits share in many of the goals and techniques used in financial audits, such as independence; however, differences between the two include:

  • Scope - A financial audit encompasses all of the transactions and activities affecting the City's financial statements. The scope of a performance audit focuses more on a single program, department or activity.
  • Standards - Financial audits must comply with widely accepted standards such as "fair presentation" as set forth in the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals, while no such standards as to what constitutes "efficient" or "effective" performance exist for performance audits.

What other types of audits does the City Controller's office conduct?

Revenue Enhancement Audits - A review of records conducted for the purpose of determining if reported revenues are derived from the sources reflected on the records and to see if such revenues are remitted timely and in compliance with the appropriate ordinance or contract.

Compliance Audits - Primarily used to determine if contractors and City are performing in accordance with the requirements of their contract. May require auditors to review records maintained by the Contractor. Sometimes used to determine if City employees are following City Administrative procedures governing specific activities.

Unannounced Audits - Surprise audits with varying purposes, most frequently used to review areas where cash is handled.

How are City departments selected for an audit?

At the beginning of each fiscal year, an audit plan is prepared by the City Auditor based on assessments documented in the comprehensive citywide business risk profile, input from City Council and city department management, and on results from previous audits. The audit plan is then evaluated by the City Controller to establish audit priorities. Once the priorities are developed, a final draft of the audit plan is submitted to the Mayor and to City Council for review and comments. Due to changing circumstances and priorities, the plan may be revised several times during a fiscal year to add departments or increase the scope of an audit.