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GFOA Newsletter
September 1, 2016
Getting the Most from GIS

State and local governments are increasingly using GIS to improve decision making and help guide smart growth. Take Loudoun County, Virginia, for example. The county, which has expanded a great deal since Washington Dulles International Airport opened in 1962, has used GIS as a linchpin for multiple applications, according to Governing.com. “What started in 1986 to automate and house the county's various maps has evolved into a system that maintains and stores a vast array of up-to-date spatial data that is readily accessible to the public and is integrated with the county’s other information systems,” Governing reported. By 1986, the county needed wide-scale access to geospatial data to quickly assess factors such as soil, watersheds, and floodplains.

Now, the county uses its readily available geospatial data to improve decision making at all levels. GIS data are also accessible to the public, providing “a critical tool for developers who rely on geographic data when applying for building permits in what is one of the nation's fastest-growing counties.” And Loudoun is installing a new GIS-enabled computer-aided dispatch system, “providing emergency-response dispatchers with a more robust, real-time system for mapping vehicles and callers, thus cutting response time and mitigating field delays.”

GFOA recommends that finance officers take an organization-wide approach to using technology for capital program management. Technology such as Loudoun’s GIS system can enhance collaboration and improve management of the capital program by providing timely, relevant, and complete information to all departments in the organization. In developing that approach, governments should consider whether commercially available systems will address their needs, how the technology will align with the organization’s IT strategic plan, who will use the system and what they expect from it, and how the technology will be supported in the future. GFOA’s Technology in Capital Planning and Management best practice provides tips for these and other issues that will help your government generate the return it expects on its technology investments.

Association News
IRS Issues Price Final Regulations to Be Addressed in Fall

The IRS priority guidelines released this month include two regulations of importance to many GFOA members: Issue price regulations and proposed rules on the definition of political subdivisions. The priority guidelines specify regulations that the U.S. Department of the Treasury will work on through June 30, 2017.

According to the guidelines, the final regulations on the definition of issue price for tax-exempt bonds will be released this year. GFOA expressed core concerns including safe harbors for competitive sales in testimony before Treasury and IRS officials in 2015. The priority guidelines also include the proposed regulations defining political subdivisions for purposes of the tax exemption, but are not likely to progress, given the extensive response from the issuer community on the topic. GFOA also spoke in opposition to these proposed rules in 2016, specifically emphasizing that the proposed rules question the legitimacy and authority of the bodies enacting the enabling legislation that created the political subdivisions in the first place.

GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center will continue to monitor and report the progress of these projects and communicate GFOA’s concerns to IRS and Treasury officials throughout the process.

Read More.
Don’t Miss Out on Additional Training Opportunities
Catch Up on GFOA’s Internet Training Courses

CD recordings of GFOA Internet training courses are available for purchase. Check the listing for programs you weren’t able to catch the first time around – these MP3 audio recordings offer a great opportunity to catch up on what you missed. They are also ideal for in-house training. And if you took part in any of these desktop seminars, listening to a CD is a great way to refresh your memory. (CPE credits are not rewarded for listening to the recordings.)

Click here for details and the order form or order online. Questions? E-mail GFOA Publications

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Missed Sessions at GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference?

Download the audio recordings, which are available for each session at GFOA’s May 22−25 annual conference in Toronto. Order form / Order online

Save the Date. GFOA’s 111th annual conference will take place May 21−24, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. Registration will open in the fall. Click here to submit to the call for topics.

SEC Releases Charges against Municipal Issuers in MCDC Initiative

On August 24, 2016, the SEC Office of Municipal Securities issued a press release detailing enforcement actions against 71 municipal issuers and obligated persons for violations in municipal bond offerings from 2011 to 2014, as part of the Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (MCDC) Initiative. Continued advocacy and descriptive guidance for voluntary disclosure are hallmarks of GFOA’s best practices, including Understanding Your Continuing Disclosure Responsibilities and Using the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to Meet SEC Requirements for Periodic Disclosure in addition to alerts issued periodically throughout the MCDC process. The GFOA Federal Liaison Center is reviewing the enforcement actions and the associated orders, and a member alert is soon to follow.

Read More.
Goodlatte Issues Remote Sales Tax Legislation Proposal

Early this week, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-6) released draft legislation designed to address the remote collection of taxes on online purchases. Goodlatte’s proposal is an alternative to the legislation introduced by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3), Remote Transactions Parity Act (HR 2775), which is presently waiting to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee. GFOA continues to support HR 2775 because it would compel retailers to collect taxes on remote sales, based on the location of the consumer.

Unfortunately, Goodlatte’s draft contains principles that would complicate and strip taxing authority from state and local governments. GFOA is working closely with it colleagues at the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and National Association of Counties and National Governors Association, along with partners in the retail community, to urge Goodlatte to consider moving forward with the better solution, the Remote Transactions Parity Act. GFOA will continue to keep its members informed about the status of these discussions and will continue to encourage members to engage their members of Congress directly, using the resources in GFOA’s Marketplace Fairness Act Resource Center in support of HR 2775.

Read More.
News Links
Public Plans Data Provides Comprehensive Information

Public Plans Data includes data on more than 160 state and local retirement plans, 115 administered at the state level and 45 administered at the local level. PPD’s sample now represents 95 percent of public plan membership nationwide. Among its new features, the site has a map showing Social Security coverage of state and local employees by state.

The Center for State and Local Government recently sent a letter to the editor to Pensions and Investments about the information available in the database, in response to an earlier commentary arguing that no comprehensive public pension database was available and that Congress should therefore pass legislation to require state and local governments to file an annual report with the U.S. Treasury.


Rethinking the Role of Parking

Cities are increasingly viewing parking in a negative light and rethinking its place in metropolitan America, according to Governing.com. Framed around a book titled The High Cost of Free Parking, the article argues that “’free’ parking costs cities and their residents a fortune and gives us little more than traffic congestion and ugly downtowns. Abolishing all those free spaces could bring about a renewal of high-quality urban life.”

Eleven years after the book’s publication, urban planners who previously ignored parking have come to regard it as a crucial force in determining the future of their communities. This is because, as the book explained, “more than 30% of the area in many downtown commercial cores is taken up by parked cars. In many places, there are four times as many parking spaces as there are vehicles. Even so, as many as half the cars crowding center city streets at any one time are cruising for a place to park.” And today, there are many compelling uses for the land taken up by parking lots.

This isn’t just an issue for cities; jurisdictions that are making long-term capital plans “are talking about pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and transit-oriented development far beyond the central core. “The question of what to do about parking turns out to be fundamental to the question of how they can bring their planning goals into fruition,” the article says.

Read More.
Jurisdictions Reach Out to Residents on City Hall Selfie Day

Did you take part in #CityHallSelfie Day? On August 15, jurisdictions took to social media to boost civic engagement, with interesting results. The non-profit group, Engaging Local Government Leaders, spearheaded the online campaign to help municipalities gain greater community support, and also to possibly spark conversations about innovation and policy, Route Fifty reported. “Some cities had more fun with it than others trying to win awards for the oddest photo, cutest photo, most prolific poster, and the group with the most followers among other categories.”

Read More.
Make a Smoother Transition to Your New Position

Taking a new position in a new workplace presents some formidable challenges. GovLoop reports the following tips for making the process smoother, from the Next Generation of Government Training Summit:

  • It’s natural to have feelings of ineptitude. Overcome them by employing simple tools like being on time, being coachable, having good body language, and embracing teamwork.
  • Say yes when you want to say no. “Even if a transition opportunity feels like a no, calling on the skills you developed over your career can easily turn it into a life changing yes.”
  • It’s a stressful situation, so take care of yourself, and manage your expectations.
Read More.
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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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