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GFOA Newsletter
May 11, 2017
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Countdown to GFOA’s Annual Conference

Thank you to the participants who registered to attend GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference, May 21−24, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Please see the below update for some last-minute logistics before you arrive onsite.

Conference attendee and guest badges along with Denver Rocks! Closing Event tickets mailed last week. In addition:

  • Pack your badge to bring with you to the convention center. The card attached to your badge must be signed and returned to GFOA Registration in Lobby A of the convention center upon your arrival at the conference.
  • If you do not receive your conference badge or Closing Event ticket in the mail or need to make a change to your badge, go to GFOA Registration in Lobby A of the convention center during conference registration hours. Appropriate signs will be marked for lines where you can pick up your badge or make changes or additions. GFOA conference registration hours are listed in the Conference Program Guide.

Plan ahead!

  • Check out GFOA’s Conference Program Guide before you arrive in Denver. Any changes to the program will be made available at the GFOA Message Center, in the GFOA Today newspaper onsite, @GFOA on Twitter, and on GFOA’s mobile site.
  • GFOA’s mobile site (m.gfoa.org) is a convenient up-to-date tool to find the latest information about the Annual Conference and sessions, look up convention center and Denver maps, filter exhibitors, and connect to GFOA’s social media.
  • Limited tickets for GFOA’s Denver Rocks! Closing Event, featuring the Barenaked Ladies, Tuesday, May 23, 7:00 pm – 10:30 pm, will be available for purchase onsite at GFOA Registration in Lobby A.
  • Take advantage of all Denver has to offer by signing up for this year’s tours! Click here for details and to register. (A limited number of tour tickets will be available for purchase at the Tours Desk located in Lobby A of the convention center.)

If you have questions about the conference, go to GFOA’s FAQs or contact GFOA.

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If you haven’t registered for the conference yet,
there’s still time to sign up!
Unable to attend the full conference? Interested in sending junior staff to participate? Take advantage of the one-day rate registration fee on May 22 or 23. Click here for registration information. 
 
Association News
What You Need to Know: GFOA's Municipal Bond Resource Center

The municipal bond tax exemption has a long history of success, having been maintained through two world wars and the Great Depression, as well as the recent Great Recession, and it continues to finance the majority of our nation’s infrastructure needs for state and local governments of all. Members of the Public Finance Network continue to emphasize that tax-exempt municipal bonds have been used to finance more than $3 trillion in critical infrastructure including the construction of schools, hospitals, airports, affordable housing, water and sewer facilities, public power utilities, roads, and public transit.

In 2015 alone, nearly 12,000 tax-exempt bonds were issued to finance more than $362 billion in infrastructure investments. Through the tax-exemption, the federal government continues to provide critical support for the federal, state and local partnership that develops and maintains essential infrastructure, which it cannot practically replicate by other means.

Municipal securities are predominantly issued by state, and local governments for governmental infrastructure and capital needs purposes, such as the construction or improvement of schools, streets, highways, hospitals, bridges, water and sewer systems, ports, airports and other public works. Between 2007 and 2016, states, counties, and other local governments invested $3.8 trillion in infrastructure through tax-exempt municipal bonds.

For more information and resources, go to GFOA’s Municipal Bond Resource Center.

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Learn about GFOA's New Financial Sustainability Framework

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 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 meeting—or if you can’t make the annual conference but would like to consider joining the pilot—please e-mail Shayne Kavanagh.

 
News Links
People Are the Most Important Part of a Smart City

When thinking about what makes a smart city, we tend to think about technology—but that can distract us from the fact that “cities are about people, and particularly about the way they bring people together,” according to CityLab. “The most fundamental way a city can be smart is to have highly skilled, well-educated residents.” The number of adults with a four-year college degree correlates with 60% of economic performance variations across large U.S. metropolitan areas. “Educational attainment is a powerful proxy measure of city economic success because having a smart population and workforce is essential to generating the new ideas that cause people and businesses to prosper.”

Cities excel in the process of creating new ideas. How it happens works differently for every city, but we know that several elements are essential, including:

  • Density, referring to the number of people and therefore the level of opportunity for interaction.
  • Diversity, which leads to combining and recombining ideas in novel ways.
  • Design. This may seem like an afterthought, but “the arrangement and aesthetic of buildings, public spaces, streetscapes, and neighborhoods matters profoundly for whether people embrace cities or abandon them.”
  • Discovery. “A part of the attraction of cities is their ability to inspire, incubate, and adapt to change.”
  • Democracy. “City political systems are permeable to the changing needs and values of their citizens—this is when many important changes bubble up.”
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Well-Funded Public Pension Plans Share Some Traits

All pension funds are different, and of course some are better funded than others. Understanding Public Pensions: A Guide for Elected Officials, a new publication from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and AARP, uses illustrations and graphs to provide quick facts and explain funding differences.  It also explores the role of retirement plans in attracting and retaining well-qualified employees to work in state and local government service.   

Certain strategies stand out among well-funded plans, the guide notes. The plan sponsors always make their full contributions, regardless of the economic environment. “If they need to make changes to their pension plan design, they do so based on good data; engage all stakeholders as changes are considered; and do not lose sight of their pension plan objectives.” These plans also examine their assumptions carefully to ensure they accurately reflect the plan’s experience and that any needed adjustments can be made in a timely way. 

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Local Governments, Schools Added 45,000 Jobs So Far This Year

April 2017 was a strong month for hiring across local governments, according to the latest job estimates from the Department of Labor. The sector collectively added an estimated 23,000 positions, the highest monthly number since August 2016. Schools added 8,000 jobs, while all other local governments added 15,000.

The increase follows several months of relatively weak employment growth. Local government payrolls expanded last summer, but gains have since slowed significantly. Over the first four months of this year, total local government employment increased by 45,000 positions, down from a gain of 68,000 over the same period in 2016.

Overall employment for state governments has changed little in 2017. 

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How to Respond to an Inappropriate Comment at Work

It can be difficult to know what to say in response to an inappropriate comment at work. Part of the difficulty is “the uncertainty that whether what you heard is bias and the fear that you might be penalized for how you handle it,” according to the Harvard Business Review. To handle a situation like this, the article recommends starting out by weighing the situation and deciding whether you need to address the comment. You don’t want to signal that the behavior is fine, especially as a manager, but you also have to weigh other factors such as what sort of person said the comment, what their reaction might be, and what political costs might exist for calling out the remark. “If you decide to say something, approach the situation as if the person didn’t mean to offend you. Most of the time, ‘the person is just clueless and doesn’t know how their behavior is being interpreted,’ so be compassionate; we’ve all made the occasional stupid comment. In the same spirit, don’t level accusations. Explain your reaction to the comment, ask questions, and share information about why you found the comment problematic. If you aren’t comfortable addressing the comment, “you might change the subject, sending a subtle message to the person that you disapprove of the remark.”

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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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