City staff has cleaned up past deficiencies, according to an independent audit, so much so it qualified for an award.
In 2009, the city hired Pleasant Hill-based firm Maze & Associates to take over auditing duties after the former auditors failed to catch nearly $2 million embezzled by former city employee Mary Ann Jones from 2005-2009.
The California Society of Municipal Finance Officers awarded the city's financial report for the fiscal year 2011-12 the Certificate of Award for Outstanding Financial Reporting.
Vikki Rodriguez, vice president of Maze & Associates, said her firm issued an unqualified opinion, which is the cleanest opinion the city can receive. She applauded staff on attaining the award.
"Congratulations," Rodriguez said, "especially in a year where we're all dealing with redevelopment agency dissolution."
Los Banos' redevelopment agency was one of roughly 400 statewide eliminated because state legislators passed a law in 2011 that effectively ended the agencies. The audit shows the city has transferred about $20 million to the redevelopment successor agency, as well as almost $27 million of long-term debt.
Los Banos' internal controls tightened since Maze marked a slew of deficiencies in its first report after being hired in 2009, 10 in the 2009-10 report and one last year.
Brent Kuhn, the city's chief financial consultant, said the annual financial report met all the standards for the award.
"It was a lot of hard work on the part of the finance department," Kuhn said.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Stonegrove praised the staff's efforts, a sentiment echoed by the rest of council.
"The entire finance department that worked on this really should be commended for what they've done," she said. "It does make me really proud."
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at email@example.com.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.