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GFOA Newsletter
April 20, 2017
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Put Your Government on the Cutting Edge of Financial Sustainability

GFOA’s recent research into what it takes for a local government to be truly financially sustainable has uncovered six leadership strategies and eight organizational design principles that lead governments to ongoing financial health. We have also developed a self-assessment technique that will allow local governments to determine the extent to which they exhibit these leadership strategies and institutional design principles.

Now, GFOA is looking for local governments that would like to join with other forward-thinking local government leaders in pilot testing this self-assessment tool at an invitation-only special session at GFOA’s annual conference, May 21-24 in Denver, Colorado, to introduce the financial sustainability framework and the tool. We’ll also discuss what would be involved in participating in the pilot.

If you’re interested in participating in this session—or if you can’t make the annual conference but would like to consider joining the pilot—please e-mail Shayne Kavanagh.

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Association News
Seeking Your Input on SEC 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. 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 by May 15, 2017. To help GFOA develop the arguments in its formal comment letter to the SEC, and to demonstrate the problems state and local governments face in undertaking such broad action, we would like to share ways in which these amendments could affect your jurisdiction. Please take this short survey and let us know!

SEC Proposed Amendments to Rule 15c2-12
SEC Rule 15c2-12 currently 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, in the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system. Issuers make those guarantees to the underwriter in the continuing disclosure agreement (CDA). The proposed amendments would add to the list of event notices the issuer agrees to disclose within the CDA, to benefit bond investors and to ensure that they are aware of the entity’s financial standing.

GFOA best practices recommend that issuers disclose bank loans that may be material to outstanding bond holders, but the SEC’s proposal goes much farther than bank loans. The SEC is also asking, in very broad language, for issuers to disclose when they incur “financial difficulties.”

Specifically, the amendments would require governments to disclose information within 10 days of the event in the following situations:

  1. The incurrence and terms of material 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 which reflect financial difficulties (this phrase is not defined by the SEC).
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Application Deadline Extended to April 26
Apply Now for the 2017 Advanced Government Finance Institute

The Advanced Government Finance Institute (AGFI) is an intensive week-long program that gives GFOA members the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and focus on management, strategic planning, and professional and personal development issues. Faculty from the University of Wisconsin, in addition to public- and private-sector specialists, come together to promote an interactive learning environment. Extensive networking opportunities are embedded into the program.

GFOA members are encouraged to apply to the 2017 AGFI, which will be held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from July 30 to August 4. The fee for the course is $2,100, which includes tuition, meals, and classroom materials. Receive 30 CPE credits for the week-long coursework. GFOA will select participants through an application process. 

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Develop Financial Management Skills

We hope to see you throughout GFOA’s Annual Conference, May 21–24, but if you’re unable to attend the full event, take advantage of GFOA’s conference one-day rate on either Monday, May 22, or Tuesday, May 23. This is also a great opportunity to train junior staff!

You will have access to all conference sessions, meetings, luncheons, and exhibits held on that date. Each day will feature a general session on critical public finance issues with a major headlining speaker or a panel of speakers. Choose from daily concurrent sessions and networking opportunities in all major areas of government finance and financial management. Create your own curriculum according to your specific needs and earn CPE credits with your participation.

Register today! If you have any questions about the Annual Conference, contact GFOA.

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Enhance Your Accounting, Budgeting, and Treasury Knowledge

Sign up to participate in one or more of the following courses, June 26-29, 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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First-Time CAFR Award Recipients Announced

Congratulations to the following entities that have received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the first time: City of Tolleson, Arizona; Alameda County Flood Control & Water Conservation District - Zone 7 Water Agency, California; California State Water Resources Development System; City of Clayton, California; County of Kings, California; City of Kingsburg, California; Panama-Buena Vista Union School District, California; Port San Luis Harbor District, California; Solano Transportation Authority, California; City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department, California; Solano Transportation Authority, California; Town of Madison, Connecticut; University of Connecticut; District School Board of Pinellas County, Florida; St. Johns County School District, Florida; Cobb and Douglas Public Health, Georgia; Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System, Illinois; Village of Johnsburg, Illinois; Rockford Public Schools #205, Illinois; Schaumburg Park District, Illinois; West Chicago Fire Protection District, Illinois; Pleasant Valley Community School District, Iowa; City of Westminster, Maryland; City of Boyne City, Michigan; City of Olivette, Missouri; Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, New Mexico; Central New Mexico Community College; Burke County, North Carolina; Town of Huntersville, North Carolina; Town of Wendell, North Carolina; Mansfield City Schools, Ohio; McKinney Independent School District, Texas; and City of Owasso, Oklahoma.

GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR) Program in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments in going 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 of all types and sizes participate in the program each year.

It’s easy to participate. Once the CAFR is prepared, submit it along with a completed application. The normal submission deadline is six months following the government’s fiscal year end. Requests to extend the deadline may be made one month at a time as a result of various factors (e.g., employee turnover, implementation of major pronouncements, audit issues, etc.).

Reports for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016, are due June 30, 2017. Extensions are available if you are not able to meet the normal submission deadline. 

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First-Time Distinguished Budget Award Recipients Announced

The following jurisdictions are first-time winners of GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award: City of Bear Lake, California; Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Florida; Paulding County Board of Commissioners, Georgia; City of Kinston, North Carolina; and City of Fredericksburg, Texas.

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First-Time  Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award Recipients Announced

GFOA would like to congratulate the following jurisdictions for receiving GFOA’s Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) Award for the first time: San Jose Federated Employees’ Retirement System, California; San Jose City Police and Fire Department Retirement Plan, California; Scott County, Iowa; and Washoe County School District, Nevada.

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News Links
Attacks and Crashes Underscore the Need for New 911 Systems
Many governments need new or upgraded 911 systems; disruptions happen with relative frequency, and in addition, an estimated 70% of emergency calls are made via cellphone, while few governments have the technology to fight abuse or software problems that can cause cellphones to call 911 repeatedly and stall the entire system, according to Pew Trusts. “Most emergency officials know how vulnerable their systems are,” according to Pew’s report. “The cost of making the switch will vary by jurisdiction, but major metropolitan governments can expect to spend between $5 million and $7 million, and potentially more, depending on other equipment and network needs.” One bright spot is Fairfax County, Virginia, “one of the few localities to install a next-generation system after years of planning for the costs” and part of a $4.3 million regional project to upgrade systems in the Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C. 
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Governments Implement a Variety of Strategies to Mitigate Disasters in Advance

With natural disasters becoming increasingly common, governments need strategies for lessening their impact. Effective planning done before the fact can go a long way toward mitigating damage and reducing costs. “These changes in the way governments manage flood preparation and mitigation save millions of dollars annually,” Governing reported. “Research by an arm of the National Institute for Building Sciences in 2005 found that, on average, every dollar invested in mitigation results in $4 saved in recovery costs.” Mitigation efforts for flood damage, retrofitting flood-resistant buildings, relocating people from risky areas, and preserving open space. Some governments are using money from investors to finance green infrastructure to help reduce flood risk, and charging homeowners and businesses stormwater fees to manage water and fund the relocation of houses, apartment buildings, and businesses. Some programs include “orphan” buyouts for homes or buildings next to properties that qualify for federal buyouts. 

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Understanding the Power of Empathy in Management

Don’t underestimate the power of empathy in the workplace. Research has shown that “the essence of optimal leadership can be boiled down to having dozens of “fruitful conversations” with others, inside and outside your organization,” according to Inc. Encouraging involvement of others and recognizing accomplishments were rated as important in a recent study, but empathy was cited as the most critical driver of overall performance—specifically, the ability to listen and respond with empathy. Unfortunately, the same study also found that only four out of 10 frontline leaders were proficient or strong on empathy. Another study showed a 34% to 48% decline in empathic skills over an eight-year period. This might be because leaders have taken on more tasks, leaving less time for personal interaction, the Inc. article suggests. What to do? Don’t underestimate the importance of empathy—put it on your daily to-do list.

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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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