Released: April 7, 2021
When it comes to overcoming challenges, Delaware County Controller Joanne Phillips and her staff stepped up as the fiscal watchdog for Delco residents in 2020. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic upend staffing and working conditions at the Government Center, there was also a cyberattack on the County’s computer system in November.
Despite those obstacles, the Delaware County Controller applied for and earned the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). Phillips was notified on March 8, 2021 that she met the standards of excellence for the County’s Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending December 2019. The detailed application for review was submitted in 2020, a year that posed significant difficulties for county governments.
“2020 was an incredibly hard year and my staff persevered through it. This year’s report was completed during a trying time that required essential workers to continue to serve the public. My office was manned every day,” Phillips said. “We had to completely rebuild our office to ensure that everyone could work safely. The independent auditors all worked off-site, so we had to arrange for remote communications and secure technology to share information with them. Plus, we had a cyberattack in November. My staff worked right through Thanksgiving and we never missed payroll or paying our vendors.”
The GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement to encourage local governments to go beyond minimum accounting requirements to prepare comprehensive and transparent financial reports each year. These reports are used by many stakeholders, from creditors, grantors and developers to rating agencies and business owners to assess the county’s financial position.
In 2020, the GFOA provided additional guidance to local governments for “leading in unprecedented times,” including a Coronavirus Response Resource Center. Phillips said her office helps to facilitate the new programs and distribution of COVID relief funds.
“It’s critical to ensure that all payments and debts are handled on time within our budget even with the economic uncertainties and changes in working conditions,” Phillips said.
The annual report is available to taxpayers, bond rating firms, budget planners, investors, creditors and the general public on the Controller’s website at www.delcopa.gov/controller.
The Annual Report for 2019 includes information on timely initiatives such as the purchase of voting machines, formation of a new Jail Oversight Board, the 2020 Census, the countywide reassessment, and upgrades to the Emergency Services/911 system.
“As the county’s chief fiscal officer, I want people to have an understanding of Delaware County’s finances. My office is entrusted with public money and we take our role as watchdog very seriously,” Phillips said.
Phillips and her staff have earned the GFOA Certificate of Achievement and posted the county’s annual report online each year since she took office in 2018.
Delaware County Controller Joanne Phillips (front left) and her staff gathered on the Courthouse steps to announce that they earned the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting for the county's annual financial report, held by First Deputy Jeffrey J. Powers, CPA (front right). The Controller's team, masked and social-distanced, retooled their office for Covid safety protocols and worked through the pandemic. One of their accomplishments is the final report, which is available to all taxpayers on the Controller's website.