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GFOA Newsletter
August 10, 2017
August Recess Is Here – Are You Ready?

Throughout the month of August, your congressional delegation typically puts business on hold in Washington, D.C., and heads home. The “August recess” is designed to give members of Congress and their staff some time to reorient, so it’s one of the very best times for constituents to meet with their members of Congress. Your advocacy during this period of time means the most because it allows your senator and representative to come face-to-face with the impact of federal preemption legislation, especially because of the deep fiscal effects they have on localities within their districts. In the next several weeks, please consider meeting with your U.S. senator and representative to discuss the key 2017 issues below. Moving into the 115th Congress, elected officials are thinking about health care, tax reform, and marketplace fairness.

GFOA has information available on tax reform, health-care reform, and marketplace fairness legislation to get you up to speed on the latest developments and give you materials to make communicating with your senator and representative easier. Please contact Emily Brock, director of GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center, if you need any additional information, when your op-ed goes to print, or if you have a discussion with your senator or representative. We look forward to working with you during the August recess.

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Association News
GFOA Submits Letter on IRS Political Subdivision Proposed Regulation

In 2016, many GFOA member organizations responded to proposed regulation that would redefine political subdivisions according to the Internal Revenue Service. These proposed regulations would make it difficult for authorities to issue tax-exempt bonds. GFOA’s response to and testimony concerning the proposed regulations in 2016 explained why the proposed amendments would add complexities and burdens to political subdivisions (i.e., public authorities) that provide essential public services.

In early July 2017, the administration released a request for comments regarding the results of Executive Order 13789, which asks agencies to identify regulations that are burdensome and too complex in our current environment for potential elimination or withdrawal. GFOA’s comments, filed August 7, articulate the same key points: the far-reaching scope and potential negative impact to political subdivisions across the United States; the disruption to states’ rights to create these entities; and the creation of roadblocks that would hinder the ability of the political subdivisions to effectively, efficiently, and economically serve communities.

The proposed regulations would have an overreaching effect on all political subdivisions that are well established, formed under state law, and provide significant public benefit. Therefore, GFOA has respectfully requested that the proposed regulation be withdrawn. Municipal bonds build infrastructure, and there should be no outstanding proposed regulation that would make it more difficult for issuers to access the public markets. 

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Webinar on User Fees, Offered at No Cost to Urban Forum Members

State and local governments increasingly rely on user charges and fees to align pricing and use of services, and also for much needed revenue. With continuing constraints on more traditional sources of revenue, organizations need a robust process for setting user charges and fees. GFOA’s Urban Forum on User Fees webinar, August 25, 2017, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Eastern), will include a wide array of examples of user charges and fees. Get 1 CPE credit for attending.

The registration fee will be waived for Urban Forum members. To register as an urban forum member, please send an e-mail to urbanforum@gfoa.org with your name, title, and organization. You are eligible to join the Urban Forum if you are an active GFOA member who is employed by a jurisdiction from a metropolitan area with a population of more than 1 million, and there's no charge for membership.

Looking to Catch Up on Recent Developments in Accounting and Financial Reporting?

Register for GFOA’s 22nd Annual Governmental GAAP Update web-stream event, 1 to 5 p.m. (Eastern) on November 2, 2017 (with encore presentations on December 7, 2017, and January 18, 2018).

This year’s training will cover:

  • Final authoritative guidance on asset retirement obligations; the use of fiduciary funds; various topics covered in the 2017 Omnibus, including pension and OPEB issues; debt extinguishment issues, including use of existing resources and prepaid insurance; and leases.
  • Recent GASB implementation guidance.
  • Proposed guidance on debt disclosures for direct borrowings and direct placements.
  • Proposed implementation guidance for accounting and financial reporting for OPEB.
  • Other ongoing GASB projects.
  • Update on the GASB financial reporting model improvements for governmental funds.
  • Update on the uniform grant guidance, including procurement guidelines.
  • Proposed changes to the Yellow Book.
  • Common financial reporting deficiencies.

Read more about intended outcomes of the training as well as view the list of presenters. Earn 4 CPE credits with your participation. Take advantage of early and group discounts. (Group discounts cannot be processed through online registration. Please submit the training registration form and attach the group spreadsheet.)

Register today! (brochure, including registration form/online) If you have any questions about the training, contact GFOA.

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News Links
Local Employment Increases Slightly, State Employment Remains Flat

The most recent federal job estimates indicate that local governments added another 7,000 jobs in July 2017, mostly in areas other than education. Although some individual schools have either expanded payrolls or trimmed staff, total education employment has changed little over the past few months. Overall, however, local government job growth has slowed in 2017, increasing by just 0.4% since January. That’s roughly half the growth over the same period last year and about the same as 2015. State government employment continues to remain flat, as it has been for the better part of the recovery from the Great Recession.

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Low-Tech Approach Would Identify Distracted Drivers

The City of Madison, Wisconsin, is considering a fairly low-tech variation on the concept of deploying public vehicle fleets with technology like cameras and license-plate scanners to catch traffic violations, RouteFifty reports. The plan would put plainclothes deputies from the Dane County Sheriff’s Department on Metro Transit buses. They would report their visual identification of distracted driving and other unsafe behaviors in high-crash zones to nearby uniformed sheriff’s department colleagues or other officers from local police departments, who would then pull the offending driver over. The point isn’t necessarily to issue citations, but to make people aware that their actions are dangerous.

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Improve the Chances that Tasks Assigned in Your Next Meeting Get Done

It’s a familiar scenario: You have a productive meeting, you assign tasks and deadlines – and nothing else happens. There are many reasons for it, most of them perfectly understandable. To overcome procrastination and the pull of other projects, Harvard Business Review recommends ending the meeting by making sure everyone understands exactly what’s expected of them, and when -- it suggests using the phrase, “Do thing X by time Y or call.” The idea is to improve communication rather than delivery, so “it’s important to deliberately cultivate and coordinate commitments if you expect people to follow through.” In addition, try the following:

  • Get a one-page summary of the meeting out within an hour if possible so the discussion and next steps stay on everyone’s radar.
  • Keep a running tally of which items get done.
  • Don’t let the tracking turn you into a task master; be compassionate.
  • You’re establishing a new norm, so you’ll need to model the desired behavior and continually remind people of what is expected.
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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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