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GFOA Newsletter
March 16, 2017
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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154 Members of Congress Join Letter Supporting Municipal Bonds in Advance of Tax Reform

Thanks to support from state and local issuers and many members of Congress, the House Municipal Finance Caucus garnered 154 co-signers on a letter addressed to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) about protecting munis from the potential threat of elimination through comprehensive tax reform. The letter describes the municipal bond as a “reliable and efficient means of financing” infrastructure that directly contributes to the strength of the U.S. The large number of signatures signals support in advance of comprehensive tax reform; however, the exemption on municipal bond interest may still face a significant threat through comprehensive tax reform.

Are your members of Congress on the letter? Contact them and thank them for their support!

Or if your members of Congress aren't on the letter, contact them and remind them what bonds have built in your jurisdiction (#builtbybonds).



Association News
SEC Proposes Amending Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12

On March 1, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed amending Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12 to include additional event notices under continuing disclosure undertakings. Rule 15c2-12 requires bond dealers to review issuers’ official statements before underwriting municipal bonds and to reasonably determine that the issuer has contracted to disclose annual financial and operating information, as well as material event notices, on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s Electronic Municipal Market Access website. The proposed amendments would add to the list of event notices to be included in continuing disclosure undertakings.

Specifically, the amendments require that information be provided about: 1) the incurrence and terms of bank loans; direct purchases of securities by banks and other non-publicly offered debt; leases; guarantees; derivative instruments; and monetary obligations resulting from judicial, administrative, and arbitration proceedings; and 2) the occurrence of defaults, acceleration, and termination events; and modifications of terms or other similar events with respect to such debt.

GFOA has expressed serious concerns about the broad scope and potential unintended consequences of the proposed amendments. The SEC is seeking public comment on the proposed amendments for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. Please stay tuned for information you need to know if your jurisdiction plans to comment on the proposed amendments, or contact Emily Brock, director of GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center.

 

Litigation on State Marketplace Fairness Legislation Could Have its Day in U.S. Supreme Court

On March 6, 2017, the South Dakota Sixth Judicial Circuit ruled a state law unconstitutional that would have required remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax if they exceed a statutory threshold of sales into the state each year. The case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., potentially brings the decades-long debate on taxing remote sales a step closer to returning to the U.S. Supreme Court. When South Dakota passed the law in early 2016, it became the first state to implement a remote sales tax law, which was challenged almost immediately. Several states have since followed in efforts to adopt similar legislation, all in response to the lack of action by the U.S. Congress to enact remote sales tax legislation.

The state is now expected to appeal the decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court. And just as the lower court was bound to follow the Supreme Court’s precedent, South Dakota’s highest court will do the same. Upon that result, it will then be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it wants to review the case, potentially opening the door to overturn Quill v. North Dakota (1992).

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Share Ideas and Sharpen Skills during GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference

Discover new tools and technologies while networking with peers during GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference, May 21–24, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. Attend sessions about a broad range of topics including:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Budgeting
  • Capital planning
  • Debt management
  • Financial reporting
  • Pension and benefit administration
  • Treasury and investment management

Register by April 6 to save with an advanced discounted registration fee. For details about how to apply for GFOA’s first-time annual conference attendee scholarship, click here. Please note that all 50 scholarships are committed for the States of California and Colorado.

Earn more than 20 CPE credits, with even more credits available for those who elect to participate in this year’s preconference seminars. If you have any questions about the Annual Conference, contact GFOA.

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How Do You Effectively Manage a Small Team?

Teams are an essential feature of the modern workplace, but as you’re probably aware from personal experience, the quality of teamwork can vary significantly from one team to another. When employees have a bad experience on a team, it can lower morale and productivity. However, when teams are at their best, the result is a whole that is greater than the sum of each member’s capabilities.

Sign up for GFOA’s preconference seminar, Managing Small Teams, May 20, 2017, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center to learn how to apply the latest research in team effectiveness, including how to run productive meetings, how to get team members to contribute, and how to create a sense of commitment to the team that results in the team reaching its full potential. The lessons learned from this session can be used for teams within the finance department, teams composed of staff from across departments, and even teams that bring together members from different organizations.

Register today for this preconference seminar and GFOA’s other preconference seminars. Earn 4 CPE credits with your participation.

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Learn the Latest Practices in Accounting, Budget, and Treasury

Sign up to participate in one or more of the following courses, June 26-29, 2017, at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel in Columbus, Ohio:

Save 10% on the registration fee when you sign up and pay in full by June 16. If you register with three or more colleagues for the same seminar, you will receive 10% off of each registration fee. (To receive the group discount, registrations must be received and paid together. This discount cannot be applied to online training registrations.)

Register today! (Registration form / Online)

A block of rooms has been reserved for GFOA attendees at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Based on availability, GFOA’s group rate is valid until June 4. Click here for more information about available rates.

We look forward to seeing you in Columbus! For information on what to do while in Columbus, visit Experience Columbus. If you have any questions about GFOA’s training seminars, contact GFOA

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CAFR Program Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 4,231 entities that have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting in 2016 for the fiscal year ended 2015 comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs). We would also like to thank the CAFR Program reviewers for volunteering their time to review reports in 2015.

GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. More than 4,000 governments participate in the program each year, which include all types (general purpose and special purpose) and all sizes.

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GFOA Announces Canadian Award for Financial Reporting Winners for Fiscal Year Ended in 2015

GFOA established the Canadian Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAnFR Program) in 1986 to help Canadian local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles, as set by the Public Sector Accounting Board of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. Following are the CAnFR winners for the fiscal year ended in 2015.

Alberta
City of Airdrie, City of Brooks, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton, City of Lethbridge, City of Medicine Hat, City of St. Albert, County of Lethbridge, County of Newell, Edmonton Library Board, Parkland County, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, Town of Stony Plain, Town of Taber, and Vulcan County

British Columbia
City of Abbotsford, City of Burnaby, City of Coquitlam, City of Duncan, City of Fort St. John, City of Kamloops, City of Kelowna, City of Maple Ridge, City of Port Alberni, City of Port Moody, City of Richmond, City of Salmon Arm, City of Surrey, City of Vernon, City of Victoria, Corporation of the City of Port Coquitlam, Corporation of the District of Central Saanich, Corporation of the District of North Cowichan, Corporation of the District of Pitt Meadows, Corporation of the District of Saanich, District of Coldstream, District of Kent, District of Lake County, District of Mission, District of West Vancouver, Sunshine Coast Regional District, Town of Oliver, and Town of Sidney

New Brunswick
City of Moncton

Northwest Territories
City of Yellowknife

Ontario
City of Greater Sudbury, City of Kitchener, City of Mississauga, City of Toronto, Corporation of the City of Brampton, Corporation of the City of Brantford, Corporation of the City of Cambridge, Corporation of the City of Markham, Corporation of the Town of Oakville, County of Wellington, Regional Municipality of Durham, Regional Municipality of Halton, Regional Municipality of Niagara, Regional Municipality of Peel, Regional Municipality of York, Town of Caledon, Town of Milton, and Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Saskatchewan
City of Prince Albert, City of Regina, and City of Saskatoon

Yukon
City of Whitehorse

And Thanks to Our Reviewers

Cathy An, Finance Manager, Corporate Financial Reporting, The City of Calgary, Alberta; Mark Beauparlant, Manager, Corporate Financial Services, City of Mississauga, Ontario; Kris Boland, Director of Finance, District of Mission, British Columbia; Diana Burns, Senior Financial Consultant, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia; Marie Chan, Senior Financial Analyst, City of Vaughan, Ontario; Fiona Filmore, Manager, Accounting Service Delivery, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia; Archie G. Johnston, Partner KPMG Government Services, Burnaby, British Columbia; Jackie Lee Macchiusi, Senior Manager, Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis, City of Vaughan, Ontario; Kyra Macfarlane, Corporate Accounting Manager, City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Aleks Nelson, Senior Financial Advisor, Alberta Municipal Affairs; Chris Parkins, Manager, Financial Advisory, Alberta Municipal Affairs; Antonella Risi, Principal, Public Sector Accounting, CPA Canada; Scott Ross, Manager of Accounting Services – Finance Department, District of Mission, British Columbia; Jorge Silvestre, Finance Reporting Manager, City of Surrey, British Columbia; Curtis Smith, Manager, Policy & Risk Management, Finance Department, Regina, Saskatchewan; Brian Szabo, Partner, KPMG, City of Burnaby, British Columbia; Kevin Travers, Audit Partner, KPMG, Toronto, Ontario; Theresa Trott, Finance & Payroll Analyst, Town of Gravenhurst, Ontario; and Kaleigh Wills, Manager of Financial Reporting and Accounting Services, City of Winnipeg, Manitoba

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News Links
Leaked Budget Details Hint at Trump Administration Priorities

On March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration is expected to formally release its budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. However, details about what the president is seeking have already leaked in the days and weeks leading up to the release. Most notably, the president will propose a $54 billion increase in defense spending, with a corresponding decrease of the same amount in non-defense spending. This means that many federal programs dealing with critical matters like education, science, and poverty could see substantial cuts.

Among some of the preliminary details leaked, for example, is the consideration of more than $6 billion in cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This potentially means severe constraints on public housing support and the end of federally funded community development grants that help provide meal assistance and the cleanup of abandoned properties in low-income neighborhoods. But even if program cuts across the board are as severe as some fear, it is unclear how receptive Congress will be to the proposed reductions or what the numbers will be when the budget is finally set. What is certain is that this is just the beginning of a process that could take months to complete.

GFOA will continue to monitor and report significant developments as they occur.

 

Health Care Repeal and Replace Discussions Center on Type and Amount of Subsidies

An important part of the repeal and replacement discussions around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will involve the type and amount of subsidies that people get to help them afford health insurance, according to an issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is particularly important for lower and moderate income individuals who do not have access to coverage at work and must purchase coverage directly. Kaiser’s analysis focuses on alternative ways to provide premium assistance for people purchasing individual market coverage, explaining how they work, providing examples of how they’re calculated, and presenting estimates of how assistance overall would change for current ACA marketplace enrollees. 

“Like the ACA itself, the American Health Care Act includes refundable tax credits to help make premiums more affordable for people buying their own insurance. This might seem like an area where a replacement plan could preserve a key element of the ACA. However, the tax credits are, in fact, structured quite differently, with important implications for affordability and which groups may be winners or losers if the ACA is repealed and replaced,” the analysis states. “For current marketplace enrollees, the American Health Care Act would provide substantially lower tax credits overall than the ACA on average. People who are lower income, older, or live in high premium areas would be particularly disadvantaged under the American Health Care Act. People with incomes over 400% of the poverty level – including those buying individual market insurance outside of the marketplaces – do not get any financial assistance under the ACA, but many would receive tax credits under the replacement proposal.”

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Tips for Delivering Bad News to Your Boss

Nobody wants to have to bring bad news to a superior, but when it can’t be avoided, SmartBrief provides some ways to minimize the damage.

  • Don’t wait.
  • Select the best time and place.
  • Keep your boss in the loop.
  • Be simple, direct, and straightforward.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Remain calm.
  • Manage your delivery.
  • Be prepared to explain what happened, if asked.
  • Find out how much your superior already knows.
  • Don’t dramatize.
  • Offer solutions.
  • Document solutions.
  • Apologize if you are at fault. 
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Editor: Marcy Boggs  |  Executive Director/CEO: Jeffrey Esser

The GFOA Newsletter (ISSN 1051-6964) is published weekly by
the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
Correspondence regarding editorial and/or business matters should be sent to
GFOA, 203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2700, Chicago, IL 60601-1210. Phone - 312/977-9700 FAX - 312/977-4806.

 


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