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GFOA Newsletter
June 30, 2016
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Learn about Tools for Civic Engagement

Governments that want to engage their citizens via technology have many choices; the challenge for most communities is determining which tools are right for them. This choice is often based on a number of factors including the availability of resources, the community’s appetite for engagement, and the impetus of government leadership. While the factors influencing which tools a community should select often vary, the benefits that can be realized from new methods of civic engagement are clear. This paper highlights key features to consider when selecting civic engagement tools.

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Association News
Accepting 2016 Standing Committee Membership Applications

Applications to become a 2016 standing committee member are being accepted through July 22. Serving on a standing committee is an excellent opportunity for GFOA members to contribute their experience and knowledge to the entire membership. GFOA’s seven standing committees meet twice each year and develop best practices, advisories, and policy statements. GFOA associate members from the private sector may also apply to be committee advisors.

We invite you to submit your application to one of GFOA’s seven standing committees: Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting; Canadian Issues; Economic Development and Capital Planning; Governmental Budgeting and Fiscal Policy; Governmental Debt Management; Retirement and Benefits Administration; and Treasury and Investment Management.

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Register for July Training in Columbus, Ohio

GFOA will host six training seminars July 18−22, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t miss the following courses:

Register with three or more colleagues for the same seminar and get 10% off each registration fee. (To receive the group discount, registrations must be received and paid together. This discount cannot be applied to online training registrations.) Submit a training registration form or sign up using GFOA’s e-store.

A block of rooms has been reserved for the GFOA attendees at The Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Click here for more information on special GFOA group rates. For ideas on what to do while in Columbus, go to Experience Columbus.

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Missed Sessions at GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference?

Catch up with audio recordings, available for each session at GFOA’s May 22-25 annual conference in Toronto. Order form / Order online

Save the Date for Next Year’s Conference

GFOA’s 111th Annual Conference will take place May 21−24, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. Registration will open in the fall. Let us know what topics and speakers you’d like to see – clink the link below to access our call for topics.

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House Introduces Blueprint for Tax Reform

On June 24, 2016, House Republicans released a Blueprint for Tax Reform that is intended to act as a guide for future comprehensive tax reform. The strategy includes several significant reforms to the current tax code: Reducing the corporate income tax rate to 20%; reducing the current seven-bracket individual income tax rate to three brackets, with a top rate of 33%; and repealing the alternative minimum tax for both corporations and individuals. The blueprint does not directly address the tax exemption of municipal bonds but does mention repealing so-called “special interest” provisions. The plan does not include a discussion draft with legislative language and it will not likely be put on the House floor for a vote this year; however, GFOA will continue to communicate and educate members of Congress about the importance of maintaining the federal tax exemption on municipal bonds in promoting job creation and improving the nation’s infrastructure.

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Puerto Rico Legislation: An Update

Early this year, GFOA provided support for legislation aimed at addressing Puerto Rico’s current financial and humanitarian emergency. GFOA, along with other local government associations, provided support for House-side legislation known as PROMESA, while specifying that support would be withdrawn if any extraneous provisions affecting state and local government financial or pension matters were added. PROMESA passed the House on June 9, 2016, and is being considered by the Senate.

The timing of PROMESA is important, as a default that will occur on July 1, 2016, could lead to court orders that would force Puerto Rico’s government to pay its creditors before funding essential services. PROMESA goes before the Senate as early as this week, and GFOA continues to keep a watchful eye on the legislation to ensure that any provisions outside the scope of a Puerto Rico assistance package are not included.

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O*NET Data Collection Program Looks for Treasury Experts

GFOA urges its members to volunteer to help the U.S. Department of Labor update the classifications for its treasurer and controller position. The Labor Department would like to interview treasury and controller “occupation experts” to make sure these positions are described accurately in the O*NET database, a free resource for job seekers, employers, veterans, educators, and students. An occupation expert is an active participant with at least five years of experience in direct financial activities such as planning, procurement, and investments for all or part of an organization.

Treasurers and controllers who meet these criteria and are interested in participating in the data collection program are encouraged to e-mail or call Tammy Belcher at the O*NET Operations Center at RTI International (the O*NET data collection contractor) at tbelcher@onet.rti.org or 877-233-7348, X119. Please provide your name; number of years of experience; address, including city and state; daytime phone number; and e-mail address. A random sample of experts responding to this request will be invited to complete a set of questionnaires (paper or online versions available).

O*Net resources include an occupational search engine; career exploration tools; a web application that helps new job seekers and students find career options that match their interests and experience; a web application that enables users to query, view, and print information on more than 900 occupations, testing, and assessment consumer guidelines; and a toolkit for businesses, which includes case studies that show how to best use the database.

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News Links
States Make Significant Retirement System Reforms

Although states have a history of making adjustments to their workforce retirement programs, changes to public pension plan design and financing have never been more numerous or significant than in the years following the Great Recession. The global stock market crash sharply reduced state and local pension fund asset values, from $3.2 trillion at the end of 2007 to $2.1 trillion in March 2009, and due to this loss, pension costs increased. These higher costs hit state and local governments just as the economic recession began to severely decrease their revenues. These events played a major role in prompting changes to public pension plans and financing that were unprecedented in number, scope, and magnitude. 

Since this time, nearly every state passed meaningful reform to one or more of its pension plans. Although the global market crash and recession affected all plans, differing plan designs, budgets, and legal frameworks across the country defied a single solution; instead, each state met its challenges with tailored changes specific to its unique circumstances. For example, some states faced legal limitations on how much modification could be made to their existing retirement plans. Other states did not require major law changes because of their financial condition or the presence of automatic adjustments in their plan designs.

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Fresno City, School District Work Together to Add Green Space for City Residents

The city of Fresno, California, found itself short on green space, and on money to create it. But after negotiating with the city, two local school districts—Fresno Unified and Central Unified—agreed to open school grounds to the public on weekends for outdoor recreational activities, the Smart Cities Council reports. This “solid (and inexpensive) first step toward making the city more livable” adds about 400 acres of green community parks and green space advocates and residents had long said were sorely needed. “Funding for the $1.2 million 12-month operating budget will come from the city's fiscal carryover budget from 2015,” according to the article. The city said “it would have cost the city $160 million if it had acquired and developed 400 acres of open green space.”

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Measure Helps Oklahoma Manage Volatile Revenue Sources

Relying on volatile revenue sources for recurring budget expenditures can obviously cause budget volatility. One state that has put a plan in place to manage this pattern is Oklahoma, where oil and gas gross production taxes and corporate income taxes support the state’s general revenue fund, Pew Trusts reports. With the recent decline in oil and gas prices, the outlook for these taxes is negative, so state policymakers enacted a bill that allocates a portion of these revenue sources to a new revenue stabilization fund, where any amounts above their average five-year general fund contribution will be deposited. Pew notes that Oklahoma joins 14 other states that tie savings to volatility, helping promote a structurally balanced budget.

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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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