Were very enthusiastic, City Manager Jonathan Evans said. We stayed the course, we had a goal in mind and we accomplished that goal.

The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award was presented to the city last week by the Government Finance Officers Association for putting together a budget that reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting, according to a release.

Its a prestigious award, said John Fishbein, senior program manager at GFOA. Wed like to see more governments involved in the program. Its a good tool and it helps stakeholders to better understand the budget.

The guidelines for the award are determined by how well the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. There are 27 criteria governing bodies are reviewed on, Fishbein said, and more than 600 reviewers. The reviewers make comments that are intended to help cities with their budget process.

The big thing is weve created our budget document to be a tool to communicate with the public on our goals and objectives, Evans said. Its a testament to the hard work of staff, elected officials and board members who helped along the way. It really is a collaborative effort.

Haines City was one 1,550 participants to receive the award for budgets beginning in 2015. The Illinois-based GFOA is a professional organization that provides training programs, publications and products intended to improve the performance of government officials who deal in finance.

Evans will be leaving Haines City to become an assistant county administrator in Sarasota County in late July, but would like to see the city continue to work to get the recognition. It is the first time that Haines City has received the award.

Your lending institutions and financial markets look at your budget documents, Evans said. That goes into account when youre trying to refinance debt or apply for a loan. I think the financial situation here is better than in recent years and this validates our commitment to transparency.

Mike Ferguson can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 863-401-6981. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.