GFOA is always on the lookout for news items that will be useful for finance professionals, research that might help you do your job better, and legal and regulatory updates you need to know about. Check the GFOA news page for the updates and any relevant GFOA announcements, and see the GFOA Newsletter archive for back issues of our weekly electronic newsletter.
Heather A. Johnston, City Manager, City of Burnsville, Minnesota, became president of the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) on June 2, 2015. The gavel was passed at the association’s annual business meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Planning for a disaster is no easy task. Calamity, man-made or natural, may strike at any time, threatening public safety or property, and recovery can be difficult and costly. The City of Houston, Texas, understands the need for disaster readiness; as recently as September 2008, Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast, causing devastating destruction. The challenges the city faced would have been even greater if its emergency operations plan hadn’t specified the roles and responsibilities the Department of Finance should play in an emergency.
Facing a number of challenges – including declining tax revenues, state funding cuts, changes in retirement contributions, and a need for increased capital funding – the City of Roanoke, Virginia, looked to its employees to change the city’s culture and find frontline solutions to everyday problems. It created an atmosphere of individual responsibility and empowerment by equipping employees with the tools needed to effect change in their work spaces. The transition was rooted in a simple question: What must be done to deliver the most value to citizens in the most efficient way?
This week the GFOA submitted comments to the Federal Reserve Board on its proposal to classify some municipal securities as high quality liquid assets
In the 1970s, the City of San Francisco, California, adopted a business tax system that levied either a payroll tax or a gross receipts tax, whichever was higher. The approach came under fire in the 1990s, however, when a similar business tax system used by the City of Los Angeles was declared unconstitutional, leading San Francisco to abandon the hybrid approach.
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 them. Your advocacy has the most impact during this period because it allows your congressional representation to come face-to-face with the fiscal effects that federal preemption legislation has on localities within their districts.
To address rising health-care costs, the City of Corpus Christi, Texas, conducted an audit of its health-care benefits plan in 2013. To the surprise of city officials, the dependent eligibility audit led to a savings of more than $1 million the first year.
Most jurisdictions are familiar with the concept of long-term financial planning, which looks at the budget over an extended period of time, rather than over the traditional single-year budget cycle. The approach is often reserved for areas of public-sector finance that lend themselves to long-term thinking, such as capital projects – but that may be changing. Concepts like priority- and performance-based budgeting have highlighted the need for communicating a jurisdiction’s broad goals in the operating budget.
Following up on efforts that began in January 2015, the Senate Finance Committee unveiled the reports of the committee’s bipartisan tax reform working groups, which were assembled more than six months ago to evaluate and identify portions of the federal tax code that are ripe for reform. GFOA led joint discussions with the working groups and its colleagues at the National League of Cities, U.S.
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) voted in June to approve the release of three Exposure Drafts (ED):
In late June, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) approved the issuance of four new standards:
Long before the word “resiliency” was associated with well-managed communities, Henrico County, Virginia, began taking steps to expand the margin between the county’s needs and its available resources. Predicated on a foundation of low taxes rates, physically sound structures, and a focus on service, the county began employing strategies to move it beyond mere sustainability and on to become elastic and agile. Initially, the county’s goals were simple: Provide great services without increasing taxes.
The GFOA unveiled a new federal advocacy resource center designed to engage members in our efforts to see that municipal securities are classified as high quality liquid assets. The need for this advocacy effort emerged last fall, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency approved a rule establishing minimum liquidity requirements for large banking organizations.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that health insurance tax credits are available on 34 federal exchanges. The court’s opinion in King v. Burwell focused largely on the consequences of ruling to the contrary – the destruction of health insurance markets. The technical legal question that was considered in this case was whether a federal exchange is “an exchange established by the state” that may offer tax credits.
On August 12 at 1 p.m. (Eastern), GFOA’s Mike Bailey, finance director for the City of Redmond, Washington, and Dustin McDonald, director of GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center, will lead a free joint webinar with the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) on federal efforts to require online retails to collect and remit sales taxes to state and local governments. Webinar attendees will get:
Clark Burrus, GFOA past-president and former comptroller of the City of Chicago, died June 17, 2015, at the age of 86.
“Clark Burrus was a trailblazer in so many ways and mentor and friend to many, well-respected in both the public and private sectors,” Jeff Esser, GFOA CEO, said.
Burrus started working for the city in 1954 as a field auditor in the Department of Aviation. He was named comptroller in 1974, and during his tenure, Chicago received its first AA rating. He joined First National Bank in 1979 and retired 12 years later.
In 6-3 decision the Supreme Court ruled today that health insurance tax credits are available on the 34 Federal Exchanges. The Court’s opinion in King v. Burwell focused largely on the consequences of ruling to the contrary: the destruction of health insurance markets.
Maximize your training opportunities by signing up for a series of GFOA training seminars on August 31 – September 4 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, California. Save 10 percent on the registration fee when you sign up and pay in full by July 31. Participate in one or more of the following courses:
• Accounting for Capital Assets ─ August 31
• Economic Development ─ August 31
Last week, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3) introduced legislation (HR 2775) that would enable state and local governments to collect taxes from retailers on remote sales. The legislation, the Remote Transaction Parity Act (RTPA), is similar to the Marketplace Fairness Act (S 698) in that both bills would compel retailers to collect taxes on remote sales based on the location of the consumer rather than the location of
Applications to become a GFOA standing committee member are being accepted through July 24. 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 for the approval of the Executive Board and membership. GFOA associate members from the private sector may also apply to be advisors to one of the committees.
On June 9, the full House passed H.R. 235, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) – legislation that would permanently block state and local governments from collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The legislation, sponsored by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), would extend the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act’s moratorium on state and local governments’ ability to assess taxes on Internet access; that moratorium was set to end October 1, 2015.
A few notable Supreme Court cases entered into the conversation at GFOA’s Annual Conference in Philadelphia this year, particularly in discussions about retirement and benefits. One example is Tibble v Edison, which GFOA’s Committee on Retirement and Benefit Administration discussed in regard to the fiduciary responsibilities of public pension plan administrators. In this case, the full court recently found that in plans administered under the ERISA statute, trustees have the continuing fiduciary duty to monitor plan investments with prudence.
In late April the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) made two significant adjustments to its technical agenda. First, the Board removed from its current agenda a controversial project on financial projections. Second, Board members added new projects on going-concern and enhanced debt disclosure.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter addressed delegates attending the June 2 general session at GFOA’s annual conference in Philadelphia, providing excellent management advice for any leader, mayor or otherwise.