Baltimore needs to better understand its financials

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I applaud the editorial message asking city leaders for advice from a certified public accountant (“Wanted in Baltimore: A Highly Skilled, Tireless, and Transparent Accountant – Superpowers Optional,” February 16). Most of us learn our “economy” based on domestic discipline, guided by a well-meaning parent. Income statements and balance sheet concepts are in the background, but few are trained to use the magic of double-entry income/expense/assets/liabilities/equity as the valuable decision support tool it may be. And the “follow the money” skills taught to CPA auditors are extremely valuable in large organizations where understanding the context of a particular transaction or report can have a huge impact on its usefulness.

During my retirement years, I became involved as a volunteer in the large, comprehensive annual financial reports that governments produce in return for private sector annual reports in support of investment decisions. These documents are loaded with voluminous “disclosures” that force users to wade through a lot of chaff to get the wheat of useful and timely data. So I can only imagine how intimidating these documents are for non-CPAs.

The functional success and reliability of our municipal corporation is subject to the measure of all counterparties who may choose to invest in the city – or vote with their feet and invest elsewhere.

Tom Brandt, Millerville

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