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. 14, 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 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 Committee may direct the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to begin legal proceedings against the special district to compel compliance or declare the special district inactive pursuant to the provisions of s. 189.4044, F.S., if applicable.
IMPORTANT: Senate Bill 224 (2011) (now Chapter 2011-144, Laws of Florida) makes substantial changes related to local government financial reporting. One of these changes requires annual financial audit reports and AFRs to be submitted no later than nine months after the end of the fiscal year, beginning with the reports for the 2010-11 fiscal year. This due date is three months earlier than required under previous law for audit reports and most of the entities' AFRs. See the section labeled 2011 Legislative Changes Related to Local Government Financial Reporting for additional information.
Annual Financial Report (AFR) Required by Section 218.32, Florida Statutes
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. 189.403, 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. 14, 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.
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 (June 30 for most entities). Therefore, the AFR for the 2011-12 fiscal year is due June 30, 2013.
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 2011-12 fiscal year is due by June 30, 2013.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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 2011-12 fiscal year is due no later than June 30, 2013 (for entities with a fiscal year ending September 30).
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 Small Government Resource On-line Manual.
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 Bureau of Local Government at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To file with the Auditor General: Instructions for electronically filing audit reports are posted on the Auditor General's website. In addition, a submittal checklist [PDF] must be completed and sent with one paper copy of the audit report to:
Local Government Audits/342
Claude Pepper Building, Room 401
111 West Madison Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1450
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 email@example.com inquiring as to whether an audit report has been received for a specified local governmental entity. Please indicate the specific year (i.e., 2011-12 fiscal year) you are interested in.
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, the Committee shall notify the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO)1 that the special district has failed to comply with the law. Upon receipt of notification, the DEO shall proceed pursuant to the provisions specified in s 189.4044, F.S., (to declare the special district inactive) or s. 189.421, F.S. (to compel the special district to file the required report(s)).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 487-4110.
Yes. Numerous municipalities and special districts have been subject to action by the Committee, pursuant to Section 11.40(2), F.S.
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. 189.416, 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 utilizing the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities to send e-mails to their members reminding the members of the deadlines for filing 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 Information 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. 189.421(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:
- Florida League of Cities - for inclusion in its membership directory;
- DEO Special District Information Program (as required by s. 189.416, F.S.) - for inclusion in the Official List of Special Districts Online;
- Auditor General - included on the Local Governmental Entity Audit Report Submittal Checklist provided with the audit report when submitted;
- DFS - required on the Certification page when submitting the AFR using the Local Government Electronic Report system (LOGER);
- Your entity's website.
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.
Number of Municipalities Action
Number of Special Districts Action
|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|
See the Committee’s Meeting Summary for each of these meetings for the specific entities the Committee took action against.
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 non-compliant 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 non-compliant. 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. 189.4044, 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 change the status of the special district to “inactive” and notify the special district’s local governing authority of the change. Pursuant to s. 189.4044(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: As specified in s. 189.421, F.S., the DEO files the required petition for a writ of certiorari in Leon County circuit court against each special district within the statutory timeframe. The special district is required to provide the required financial reports and pay for all court costs, unless all parties agree otherwise. The court cases against the special districts are generally dismissed after the required financial reports are submitted.
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.
2011 Legislative Changes Related to Local Government Financial Reporting
Senate Bill 224 (now Chapter 2011-144, Laws of Florida), which became effective October 1, 2011, revises a number of provisions related to the Committee's authority related to local government financial reporting and compliance. These include:
- All AFRs and audit reports are now due nine months after the fiscal year-end [The fiscal year ends September 30 for most local governments].
Certain aspects of the reporting process used by the Committee and the DEO to compel special districts (independent and dependent) to file their AFRs and audit reports with the DFS and the Auditor General, respectively, to provide clarification:
- that all special districts must comply with the financial reporting requirements of ss. 218.32 and 218.39, F.S., and cooperate with their local general-purpose government or governing authority when requested to provide certain financial information (see Section 14 of this law);
- of what happens when an independent or dependent special district fails to file the required financial reports, including a change to a 60-day reporting deadline rather than the total 90-day reporting deadline allowed previously (see Sections 15 and 16 of this law).
- The Auditor General is required to notify the Committee of local government audit reports that indicate that an entity has failed to take full corrective action in response to a recommendation that was included in the two preceding financial audit reports. The new language also provides steps that the Committee may take in response to this notification, including the authority to impose a penalty against the local government if the Committee determines that an audited entity has failed to take full corrective action for which there is no justifiable reason for not taking such action, or has failed to comply with related Committee requests. The penalty authorized allows the withholding of certain state revenue [for a county or municipality] or legal action [for a special district]. This is the same penalty that may be imposed by the Committee when a local government fails to file required financial reports.
- Please refer to the bill for other requirements not related to the Committee. For example, local governments will now be required to post certain budget documents online within a specified period of time.
Senate Bill 2156 (now Chapter 2011-142, Laws of Florida), transferred the Special District Information Program from the DCA to a newly created agency, the Department of Economic Opportunity. Although the DCA ceased to exist, the function related to the Committee's enforcement of local government financial reporting has continued in the new agency.
If you have general questions about reporting requirements or action taken against noncompliant entities, you may contact the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee at email@example.com 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 Brendan Jones, Interim Financial Administrator with the DFS Local Government Section, at (850) 413-5592 or Brendan.Jones@myfloridacfo.com.
If you have questions about submitting a local governmental entity audit report electronically to the Auditor General's Office, you may contact Kathryn Brewer at (850) 487-9308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(NEW) Calendar of Local Government Reporting Requirements