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GFOA Newsletter
August 3, 2017
EMPLOYMENT ADS  |  TRAINING  |  BEST PRACTICES
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Financial Sustainability: Mutual Trust for Communitywide Benefit

Maintaining the financial capacity to provide quality services is a concern for all local governments. This is especially true in a time of immediate cost pressures, like pension and infrastructure, and resource constraints, like reduced financial support from state and federal governments and public aversion to higher taxes. Further, an aging population uses more in public services and pays less in taxes, which means local governments will be facing fiscal pressures for years to come. Failure to take on these challenges in a systematic and thoughtful way could endanger the financial sustainability of our communities and, with it, their health, safety, and welfare. GFOA’s new “Financial Sustainability: Mutual Trust for Communitywide Benefit” whitepaper discusses a promising approach to achieving financial sustainability in your government.

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Association News
Budgeting Best Practice: Public Participation

Looking for ways to get more public input into your government’s budgeting process? GFOA’s Public Participation in Budgeting training session – scheduled for August 21, 2017, in Sacramento, California – will provide participants with an overview of citizen, stakeholder, and constituent engagement in the budget process. You’ll explore the purpose and benefits of public participation, along with ways to apply various methods and strategies for meeting challenges. Attendees will receive 8 CPE credits.

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New to Governmental Budgeting? Get up to Speed with GFOA’s Budget Academy

GFOA’s Budget Analyst Training Academy, September 12–15, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois, will focus on skills and techniques critical to a public-sector budget analyst. Using a combination of lectures, discussions, and exercises, the course will provide an overview of the budget development process, including best practices and techniques required in effective budgeting. Specific topic areas will include goal setting, program development, revenue and expense analysis, position budgeting, capital budgeting, and more.

Participants will have an opportunity to network with colleagues to share best practices and to discuss budgeting challenges. 30 CPE credits are available with your participation.

If you have any questions about the training, contact GFOA. For information about activities during your stay, visit Choose Chicago.

Space is limited! Read more and register today!

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Add Your Experiences to GFOA’s Research on Structurally Balanced Budgets

GFOA is researching member governments’ policies related to structurally balanced budgets. If you have a structurally balanced budget policy, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Please contact GFOA researchers Shayne Kavanagh and Vincent Reitano.

Deadline Quickly Approaching:
The “Series 50” and Municipal Advisors

Governmental debt issuers that work with municipal advisors should be aware that by September 12, 2017, any individuals providing municipal advisory services need to have passed the “Series 50” exam, a professional qualification exam developed by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). After September 12, 2017, any individual who does not hold the Series 50 registration cannot perform municipal advisory activities.

If you are working with a municipal advisor or starting a new engagement with a municipal advisor, confirm that individual has passed the Series 50 exam or is planning to do so by the September 12 deadline. If you have retained a municipal advisor that serves as your independent registered municipal advisor, you may want to ask the firm to confirm that those municipal advisor professionals staffed on one of your deals or otherwise providing you advice is Series 50-qualified.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s municipal advisor rule took effect on July 1, 2014. The rule defines the term “municipal advisor” and creates the broad framework for the regulations the MSRB is charged with developing regarding the duties and responsibilities of municipal advisors. The municipal advisor rule itself stems from the new regulatory framework over municipal advisors created by the Dodd-Frank Act to protect issuers from unfair and deceptive practices by outside professionals. The rule clearly states that municipal advisors have a federal fiduciary duty to their issuer clients, must meet professional qualification standards, and may serve no other role than to advise their clients in a transaction. More information about the rule can be found on GFOA’s Primer: Municipal Advisor Rulemaking and Issuers.

As of July 25, 2017, more than 120 municipal advisor firms registered with the MSRB did not have anyone qualified with the Series 50 exam or enrolled to take the exam. Find the names of individuals who have passed the Series 50 exam on the MSRB’s website. This due diligence can help avoid a disruption in the municipal advisory services you receive, including preventing an impact to your deal team. 

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LIBOR to Phase Out by 2021

On July 27, 2017, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced that it intends to stop compelling banks to submit London interbank offered rates by the end of 2021. The benchmark an average rate based on an estimation of a group of 20 banks to borrow funds from each other in five different currencies across seven time periods, submitted by a panel of lenders every morning. LIBOR is an internationally used rate and is the base for calculating interest rates on loans including mortgages, student loans, and municipal debt.

International organizations are mobilizing to search for a new benchmark. A Federal Reserve- sponsored group, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee has proposed a U.S.-based alternative and will continue to refine its proposed transition plan and develop implementation options for the plan throughout the next several months. GFOA will report back as details develop.

New CPFOs Announced

The following individuals have attained the certified public finance officer designation in summer 2017: George Doorley, Assistant Controller-Treasurer. County of Santa Clara, CA; Lorri Dugan, Chief Financial Officer, Colorado Department of Revenue; Lavern Farina, Accounting Manager, Greenwood Village, CO; Michael Kumbera, Assistant Village Manager, Village of Algonquin, IL; Patrice Sutton, Finance Director, Village of Libertyville, IL; and Christopher Woidzik, Controller, San Diego County Water Authority, CA.

705 people have now achieved the CPFO designation.

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News Links
Digital Mapping Technique Helps Residents Recover from Disasters More Quickly

A non-profit that specializes in rebuilding homes after disasters is working on a new digital mapping technique to help communities recover from disasters more quickly, Stateline reports. The software allows them to assess damage to homes and relate that information to data about insurance and federal financial assistance, to get help to the most desperate residents far more quickly. Doing so is an increasingly important task, as the number of billion-dollar disasters increases and the federal government considers scaling back its role in disaster recovery.

As an example of what the program can do, SBP recently collected data on nearly 4,000 tornado-damaged homes in four weeks and determined that 245 were in need of major repairs. The group also discovered that 29 percent of people with damage were uninsured. SBP put those uninsured residents, fewer than expected, at the top of the list for help.

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Governments Look for Ways to Fund Road and Bridge Maintenance

It’s a conundrum – roads and bridges need to be repaired and maintained, revenue is lagging, and residents don’t want to pay more in taxes. Despite this, 26 states have raised taxes on motor fuels in the past four years. “Gas tax deals are often crafted to reassure voters that their money will be spent wisely.” For example, “South Carolina and Oregon’s  latest laws changed some of the rules governing their transportation commissions. California referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would guarantee new revenue raised by certain taxes on fuel and vehicle license fees will be spent on transportation. And in South Carolina, Tennessee, and New Jersey — which raised gas taxes last year — getting conservative lawmakers to vote for raising the gas tax required simultaneously cutting other taxes that fund general operations.”

The gas tax increases typically involve a few more cents a gallon over several years, which is enough to raise some of the funding needed to take on each state’s backlog of maintenance and expansion projects, but not enough to eliminate them entirely

States are also looking beyond fuel taxes for other sources of revenue, including additional fees on electric and hybrid vehicles, with some lawmakers thinking that the gas tax is obsolete. They think road user fees may become a more important source of revenue than the gas tax.

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Tips on the Fine Art of Delegation

Responding to all those e-mails makes it difficult to remember what you really need to be working on. When this feeling hits you, remind yourself that it’s time to delegate. Many managers aren’t great at delegation, and even those who do it fairly well probably have some room for improvement, according to Harvard Business Review. “Many of us know the vague benefits and aim of delegation — to build teams who can share the workload so that you do the highest expression work that only you can do. But in practice, we hoard and bottleneck out of a variety of fears: the work won’t be done up to spec, it will take me longer to assign than quickly do myself, this is work no one wants to do, it will cost too much, what if this person can’t be trusted, and so on.”

The article suggests ignoring your inner perfectionist and delegating everything that can be delegated and gives some tips about what should be offloaded. Delegate tasks that are:

  • So small they seem inconsequential to tackle – but they add up.
  • Relatively simple – the tedious stuff.
  • Time-consuming and do not require you to do the initial 80% of research. Once that 80% is complete, you can step back in.
  • Complicated at first but can be translated into a system and passed along, with you still providing quality checks and final approval.
  • Things you don’t feel equipped to handle.
  • Time-sensitive but compete with other priorities.
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Editor: Marcy Boggs  |  Executive Director/CEO: Chris Morrill 

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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