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Local Government Financial Reporting - Joint Legislative Auditing Committee

Joint Legislative Auditing Committee

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Local Government Financial Reporting for Counties, Municipalities, and Special Districts

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee (Committee) has the authority to enforce provisions against local governmental entities when they fail to submit financial reports required by law. The following information is provided to assist local governments with questions regarding financial reporting requirements. Contact information is provided for various offices with responsibilities related to financial reporting if additional assistance is needed.

All counties, municipalities, and special districts are required to complete an annual financial report (AFR) for each fiscal year. Counties, municipalities and independent special districts are required to submit the AFR to the Department of Financial Services (DFS). Any dependent special district that is a component unit (as defined by generally accepted accounting principles (Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 61, The Financial Reporting Entity)) of the county or the municipality to which it is dependent is required to provide that entity the financial information necessary to comply with the AFR reporting requirements. It is then the county's or the municipality's responsibility to include the financial information of the dependent special district in its AFR. A dependent special district that is not determined to be a component unit of the county or the municipality to which it is dependent is required to file the AFR with the DFS.

In addition, all counties, and municipalities and special districts that meet a certain threshold for revenues or total expenditures/expenses are also required to have an annual financial audit (audit) of their accounts and records conducted by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). Audits are required to be submitted to both the DFS and the Auditor General. Each year, these offices provide the Committee with a list of all entities that have failed to comply with these financial reporting requirements. The Committee may choose to take action pursuant to s. 11.40(2), F.S., against noncompliant entities. For counties and municipalities, the Committee may direct the DFS and the Department of Revenue (DOR) to withhold any funds due to the entity that are not pledged for bond debt service satisfaction until they have complied with the law. For special districts, the process varies based on the manner in which each special district is created. If certain criteria are met, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) may declare the special district inactive pursuant to the provisions of s. 189.062, F.S., or begin legal proceedings against the special district to compel compliance pursuant to the provisions of s. 189.067(3), F.S.

 

 Annual Financial Report (AFR) Required by Section 218.32, Florida Statutes

1. Which entities are required to file an AFR?

Each local governmental entity that is determined to be a reporting entity, as defined by generally accepted accounting principles, and each independent special district as defined in s. 189.012, F.S., is required to file an AFR with the DFS. This includes all counties, municipalities, and independent special districts.

While all dependent special districts are required to complete an AFR, the location where the AFR is to be filed varies. Each dependent special district that is a component unit (as defined by generally accepted accounting principles (Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 61, The Financial Reporting Entity)) of the county or the municipality to which it is dependent is required to provide that entity, within a reasonable time period as established by the entity, the financial information necessary to comply with the AFR reporting requirements. Questions concerning whether a dependent special district is a component unit of the county or municipality to which it is dependent should be directed to the county's or municipality's finance and accounting department.

A dependent special district that is not determined to be a component unit of the county or municipality to which it is dependent is required to file the AFR with the DFS.

2. When is the AFR due?

If the entity is not required to have an audit pursuant to s. 218.39, F.S.:

  • No later than nine months after the end of the entity's fiscal year (the fiscal year for most entites ends on September 30th). Therefore, the AFR for the 2014-15 fiscal year is due June 30, 2016.

If the entity is required to have an audit pursuant to s. 218.39, F.S.:

  • Within 45 days after the completion of the audit report, but no later than nine months after the end of the entity's fiscal year. For most entities, the deadline is June 30. Therefore, the AFR for the 2014-15 fiscal year is due by June 30, 2016.

3. How does an entity submit an AFR?

AFRs are required to be prepared and submitted electronically using the DFS Local Government Section's web-based Local Government Electronic Reporting system (LOGER).

A username and password are required to access LOGER. Contact the DFS Local Government Section at (850) 413-5571 or localgov@myfloridacfo.com to obtain this information. Any questions relating to the preparation and submission of the AFR should also be directed to the Local Government Section.

Note: The AFR is not the audit report or the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), but rather is a unique document with the format prescribed by the DFS. Please see the sample AFR (PDF) if you are not familiar with this document. The sample AFR provided is for a large municipality and may contain account codes and funds that other local governments do not use. Please see DFS' website for the chart of accounts and uniform accounting system manuals to assist you in completing the AFR.

4. How can I tell if a local governmental entity has submitted its AFR?

LOGER (the DFS online reporting system) includes the date the AFR was received and is accessible for all to view. A password is not required. When an AFR is electronically submitted to the DFS using LOGER, the date received is automatically posted in the system. If an AFR is received through the mail, DFS posts the date received in LOGER. Generate a report from LOGER. The Compliant Governments report includes the local governmental entities that have submitted their AFRs by the due date. The Non-Compliant Governments report includes the local governmental entities that have either not submitted their AFRs or submitted them after the due date.

5. Does a CPA have to complete the AFR?

No. Either a CPA or entity staff may enter the required amounts in LOGER; however, specified local governmental entity staff must complete the certification page in order to electronically submit the AFR to the DFS.

6. What suggestions do you have if we do not have the expertise to complete an AFR?

Contact other local governmental entities in your community or in neighboring communities (i.e., counties, cities, special districts) for possible assistance or to obtain the names of CPA/CPA firms in your area that provide accounting services to governmental entities.

Check the yellow pages for your community or neighboring communities to obtain contact information for bookkeeping and accounting service providers.

Annual Financial Audit Report (Audit) Required by Section 218.39, Florida Statutes

7. Which local governmental entities are required to obtain a financial audit?

  • Each county.
  • Any municipality with revenues or the total of expenditures and expenses in excess of $250,000.
  • Each municipality with revenues or the total of expenditures and expenses between $100,000 and $250,000 that has not been subject to a financial audit pursuant to s. 218.39(1), F.S. for the preceding two fiscal years.
  • Any special district with revenues or the total of expenditures and expenses in excess of $100,000.
  • Each special district with revenues or the total of expenditures and expenses between $50,000 and $100,000 that has not been subject to a financial audit pursuant to s. 218.39(1), F.S. for the preceding two fiscal years.

8. When is the audit due?

Within 45 days after the audit report is provided to the entity's governing body (i.e., the city commission of a city), but no later than nine months after the end of the entity's fiscal year. For example, the audit report for the 2014-15 fiscal year is due no later than June 30, 2016 (for entities with a fiscal year ending September 30).

9. How can I find a CPA/CPA firm to conduct an audit for our entity?

While we cannot suggest the name of a CPA/CPA firm, you may wish to check with the other local governmental entities in your community or in neighboring communities to obtain the names of some CPA/CPA firms in your area that conduct audits of governmental entities. You can also contact the Auditor General's Office and request a list of CPAs/CPA firms that have performed audits of local governmental entities in your community or neighboring communities.

See Auditor Selection Guidelines posted on the Auditor General's website for legal requirements and non-mandatory guidance related to the selection of an entity's auditor.

Additional information about audit requirements, including the auditor selection process, may be found on the the Florida Government Finance Officers Association's (FGFOA's) website. See Section three of the Basic Government Resource On-line Manual.

10. Where is the audit report required to be sent?

Audit reports must be filed with both the DFS and the Auditor General.

To file with the DFS: A copy of the audit report should be submitted electronically to the Local Government Section at: localgov@myfloridacfo.com.

To file with the Auditor General: Instructions for electronically filing audit reports are posted on the Auditor General's website. In addition, a Local Governmental Entity Audit Report Submittal Checklist [PDF] must be completed and sent with one paper copy of the audit report to:

Auditor General
Local Government Audits/342
Claude Pepper Building, Room 401
111 West Madison Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1450

11. How can I tell if a local governmental entity has submitted its audit report?

Audit reports received are posted on the Auditor General's website. To view the audit reports posted, proceed as follows: (1) scroll to "Reports Filed with the Auditor General" (on left side of page), (2) hover over "Filed Reports," and (3) select the type of entity (Counties, Municipalities, Special Districts, etc.). You may access the available audit reports by selecting an individual entity.

The DFS posts the date an audit report is received in LOGER. Generate a report from LOGER. The Compliant Governments report includes the local governmental entities that have submitted their AFRs by the due date. The Non-Compliant Governments report includes the local governmental entities that have either not submitted their AFRs or submitted them after the due date. These reports also contain a column for the date the audit report was received.

Note: An audit report may have been received by these offices but not yet listed online as received. This may be due to the time required for review of the audit report. You may send an e-mail to flaudgen_localgovt@aud.state.fl.us inquiring as to whether an audit report has been received for a specified local governmental entity. Please indicate the specific year (i.e., 2013-14 fiscal year) you are interested in.

General Questions:

12. What happens if an entity does not file the AFR with the DFS? What happens if an entity does not file an audit report, if required, with the Auditor General?

Following notification by the DFS or the Auditor General, the Committee may hold a hearing to discuss whether the entity should be subject to state action pursuant to s. 11.40(2), F.S.

If the committee decides action should be taken:

(1) In the case of a county or a municipality, the Committee shall direct the Department of Revenue and the Department of Financial Services to withhold any funds not pledged for bond debt service satisfaction which are payable to such entity until the entity complies with the law. The Committee shall specify the date such action shall begin, and the directive must be received by the Department of Revenue and the Department of Financial Services 30 days before the date of the distribution mandated by law.

(2) In the case of a special district created by a special act of the Legislature, the Committee shall notify the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO),1  the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives charged with special distict oversight, and the legislators who represent a portion of the geographical jurisdiction of the special district pursuant to s. 189.0651, F.S.

Upon receipt of notification, the DEO shall proceed pursuant to the provisions specified in s. 189.062, F.S. (to declare the special district inactive) or s. 189.067, F.S. (provide technical assistance if it has not already done so; legal action).

The Committee may convene a public hearing on the issue of noncompliance, as well as general oversight of the special district as provided in s. 189.068, F.S., at the direction of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. [s. 189.0651, F.S.]

If the special district remains in noncompliance after the public hearing, or if a public hearing is not held, the Committee may request the DEO to proceed pursuant to s. 189.067(3), F.S. (legal action).

(3) In the case of a special district created by a local ordinance, the Committee shall notify the DEO and the chair or equivalent of the local general-purpose government pursuant to s. 189.0652(2), F.S.

Upon receipt of notification, the DEO shall proceed pursuant to the provisions specified in s. 189.062, F.S. (to declare the special district inactive) or s. 189.067, F.S. (provide technical assistance if it has not already done so; legal action).

The chair or equivalent of the local general-purpose government may convene a public hearing on the issue of noncompliance, as well as general oversight of the special district as provided in s. 189.068, F.S., within three months after receipt of notice of noncompliance from the Committee. [s. 189.0652(2), F.S.]

If the special district remains in noncompliance after the public hearing, or if a public hearing is not held, the Committee may request the DEO to proceed pursuant to s. 189.067(3), F.S. (legal action).

(4) In the case of a special district created in any manner other than a special act or local ordinance, the Committee shall notify the DEO.

Upon receipt of notification, the DEO shall proceed pursuant to s. 189.062, F.S. (to declare the special district inactive) or s. 189.067(3), F.S. (legal action).

Note: Chapter 2014-22, Laws of Florida, effective July 1, 2014, revised the process related to special districts; the new requirements are described above.


1 The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) was previously responsible for this function. Effective October 1, 2011, DCA ceased to exist.

13. What should a dependent special district (that is a component unit) do if it has filed the required financial report(s) with its local governing authority but the local governing authority has not filed its required reports with the DFS and/or the Auditor General?

Notify the Committee's office at jlac@leg.state.fl.us or (850) 487-4110.

14. Has the Committee taken action against any entities recently?

Yes. Numerous municipalities and special districts have been subject to action by the Committee, pursuant to s. 11.40(2), F.S.

15. Will an entity be notified before the Committee takes action?

Generally, yes. By the time the Committee takes action, typically multiple attempts have been made to notify a representative of the entity of the reporting requirements and to determine if the entity intends to comply. However, there are times, especially for special districts, that attempts to contact a representative of an entity are unsuccessful. Pursuant to s. 189.014, F.S., each special district is required to designate a registered office and a registered agent and file such information with the DEO. Any change of this information must be filed with the DEO. This information is used by Committee staff and the various agencies when attempting to contact a special district.

Ultimately, it is each local governmental entity's responsibility to comply with the laws of the State of Florida.

Within a few weeks after the deadline, the Auditor General sends a letter to each local governmental entity that is required to submit an audit report to the Auditor General but has failed to do so. Letters are also sent to entities that may be required to submit an audit report but information to make that determination (revenues and expenditures/expenses) for the fiscal year are not available. These letters are generally addressed to the financial contact of the entity as provided to the Auditor General on the audit report submittal checklist submitted with the audit report in a previous year. If such information is not available, the best contact information available from other sources is used (i.e., DEO's Official List of Special Districts Online, the Florida League of Cities membership directory, entity websites, etc.).

The DFS may send an e-mail or attempt to make contact through other means, such as contacting the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities and requesting them to send e-mails to their members that remind the members of the filing deadlines for the financial reports. They do not, however, have sufficient staff to routinely contact each individual entity that has failed to file the required financial reports.

When the DEO Special District Accountability Program office is notified by either the DFS or the Auditor General that a special district has failed to file the required financial reports, staff sends a certified letter to each special district in accordance with the provisions of s. 189.067(1), F.S. This letter contains specific information in accordance with law and grants a 60-day time extension for filing the required financial report.

Once Committee staff is notified by the DFS and the Auditor General, an attempt is made to contact the entities that have failed to file the required financial reports. If contact information is available, Committee staff will send a certified letter to the mayor of a municipality, the chair of a county's board of county commissioners, or the registered agent of a special district. To ensure that your entity is promptly notified, please verify that your current contact information has been provided to one or more of the following locations, as applicable:

  1. Florida League of Cities - for inclusion in its membership directory;
  2. DEO Special District Accountability Program (as required by s. 189.014, F.S.) - for inclusion in the Official List of Special Districts Online;
  3. Auditor General - included on the Local Governmental Entity Audit Report Submittal Checklist provided with the audit report when submitted;
  4. DFS - required on the Certification page when submitting the AFR using the Local Government Electronic Reporting system (LOGER);
  5. Your entity's website.

16. If an entity is notified that the Committee intends to take action, should the entity send the AFR or the audit report to the Committee?

No. Send the required financial report(s) to the appropriate office(s) (DFS and/or Auditor General). Committee staff work closely with these offices to determine which entities have submitted the required reports.

17. What has happened when the Committee has decided to take action recently? 
 

  

Committee Meeting

Number of Municipalities Action
was Taken Against

Number of Special Districts Action
 was Taken Against

March 9, 2009 4 3
October 5, 2009 0 3
March 8, 2010 24 50
April 4, 2011 11 20
October 17, 2011 0 1
December 5, 2011 10 89²
February 11, 2013 7 12
February 17, 2014 6 4
February 16, 2015 4 6
November 2, 2015 14 26
January 26, 2017 9 28

 
See the Committee’s Meeting Summary for each of these meetings for the specific entities the Committee took action against. For details about these and other local governments that had failed to file required reports, see the Committee's Meeting Packet for each of the above meeting dates.

The effective date of the Committee’s action is the date the Committee directs staff to notify the agencies (the DOR, the DFS, and/or the DEO [Note: Prior to 10/1/2011 the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) was notified of noncompliant special districts]) to proceed with enforcement. This date may occur shortly after the Committee’s meeting or several months later, depending on circumstances. Any entity that complies with the reporting requirements prior to the effective date is not included in the notification to the enforcement agencies.

Action against municipalities: Thirty days after the DOR and the DFS receive the Committee’s notification to proceed with enforcement, they must begin withholding any funds not pledged for bond debt service satisfaction which are payable to any municipalities that continue to be noncompliant. These funds include Half-Cent Sales Tax, Municipal Revenue Sharing in excess of the municipality’s minimum entitlement amount, and grant funds. Some funds are eligible to be restored to the municipality once all required reports have been filed; however, other funds are redistributed to other entities and are not available to be restored.

 Action against special districts:

To declare the special district inactive: This occurs when specific criteria is met. For example, when the special district has not filed registered office and agent information with the DEO or when the registered agent or a local government notifies the DEO (formerly the DCA) that the special district has taken no action for two or more years. The DEO proceeds with the provisions of s. 189.062, F.S., to declare the special district inactive. A notice of proposed declaration of inactive status is published for 21 days in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the special district is located. If no objections are received, the DEO will then change the status of the special district to “inactive” and notify the chair of the governing body of each local general-purpose government that created the special district of the change. Pursuant to s. 189.062(4), F.S., the entity that created a special district that has been declared inactive under this section must dissolve the special district by repealing its enabling laws or by other appropriate means.

To compel compliance: Depending on the manner in which a special district was created, there are either one or two options available to compel special districts to submit the required financial reports once the Committee has taken action.

The first option is a public hearing, which is available for many, but not all, special districts as follows:

  • For a special district created by a special act of the Legislature: a public hearing may be held by the Committee at the direction of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in accordance with s. 189.0651, F.S.
  • For a special district created by a local ordinance or resolution: a public hearing may be held by the chair or equivalent of the local general-purpose government in accordance with s. 189.0652, F.S.

The second option, available for all special districts, is to procced with legal action in accordance with s. 189.067(3), F.S. The DEO has the authority to proceed with legal action when it is initially notified that the Committee has taken action against a special district in accordance with s. 11.40(2), F.S. Also, the Committee may send a second notification to the DEO to specifically request legal action for certain special districts. This may occur if a special district (created by special act or local ordinance) remains in noncompliance after a public hearing is held or if a public hearing is not held.

As specified in s. 189.067(3), F.S., the DEO will file the required petition for enforcement in Leon County circuit court against each special district within the statutory timeframe. The petition may request declaratory, injunctive, any other equitable relief, or any remedy provided in law. The court is required to award the prevailing party reasonable attorney's fees and costs unless affirmatively waived by all parties. Note: Prior to July 1, 2014, when the provisions of Chapter 2014-22, Laws of Florida, took effect, a writ of certiorari, rather than a petition for enforcement, was required to be filed in court.


 ² Due to an error, one of these special districts was reported to the Committee as noncompliant; however, the required reports had been timely submitted.

 

18. Who can I contact if I have any questions?

If you have general questions about reporting requirements or action taken against noncompliant entities, you may contact the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee at jlac@leg.state.fl.us or (850) 487-4110.

If you have questions about completing the AFR or submitting the AFR or audit report to the DFS, you may contact the DFS Local Government Section, at (850) 413-5571.

If you have questions about submitting a local governmental entity audit report electronically to the Auditor General's Office, you may contact Ted Waller at (850) 412-2887 or tedwaller@aud.state.fl.us.

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Last updated: March 2017