State/Provincial Update - February 24, 2016

Help Us Keep Our State/Provincial Officer Directory Up-To-Date

If you have not done so yet, please review the State/Provincial Officer Directory we have on file and let us know if you have any changes. Any changes can be e-mailed to Kate Southard.

 

Don’t Miss GFOA’s 110th Annual Conference

Thank you to GFOA’s state and provincial representatives and presidents who have registered to attend the conference so far, May 22-25, 2016, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We want to remind those not yet registered that GFOA’s state and provincial representatives and presidents are entitled to a special discounted registration fee of $380. To receive the discount, submit a conference registration form and write “State/Provincial GFOA President or Representative” on the form.

Please let your members know about the following ways to save on the registration fee:

  • Delegates will receive a discounted registration fee on the conferenceif theyregister by April 14. They can save an additional 10 percent when three or more colleagues submit their registration forms together.
  • GFOA active government members who have not previously attended GFOA’s Annual Conference may apply for the first-time annual conference attendee scholarships. Fifty scholarships will be awarded per state or province in the amount of the full-conference registration fee.To learn more about this opportunity and to apply for the scholarship, please e-mail First Annual Conference.

Session descriptions are posted to the GFOA website. If you have any questions about the conference, contact GFOA.

GFOA State/Provincial Representatives and Presidents Meeting

Saturday, May 21, 2016 - Metro Toronto Convention Centre
(3:00−4:00 pm tentative - room number TBA)

Please attend this meeting to learn more about the GFOA’s activities and to share information with your fellow state/provincial GFOA colleagues.

We urge you to e-mail any suggested topics for roundtable discussions to add to the meeting’s agenda to Natalie Laudadio. Last year’s discussions covered the following topics: communication and networking between chapters between conference; effective partnering with local educational institutions to raise awareness of career opportunities in the field of public finance; and successful tools for member communications.

A finalized agenda will be distributed before the meeting.We look forward to seeing you!

Travel Resources for the Annual Conference:

  • Reserve your housing through GFOA’s official hotel block.
  • Take advantage of GFOA’s arranged travel discounts with Air Canada, Delta, Porter, United, and Hertz Rental Car.
  • Toronto has many attractions, events, and places to visit to help make your conference trip enjoyable - sign up for this year’s tours!
  • All delegates traveling to Toronto from the United States will need a passport. Please plan ahead. Obtaining a passport can take approximately 4-6 weeks. Information on applying for or renewing a passport / Information for first-time passport application
  • U.S. citizens driving to Toronto will need one of the following to get back into the United States: US passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, Trusted Traveler Program card (Nexus, Sentri, Fast), US Military id card when on official orders, US merchant mariner document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business, or form I-872 American Indian Card. Click here for more information.

 

Take Advantage of GFOA Training Close To Home

Visit GFOA’s training schedule for course descriptions, speaker listings, and to register. Training courses are posted through September 2016, and more courses will be added. Earn CPE credits at an affordable cost and save with early and group discounts.

 

General Fund Reserves Help Boost Bond Ratings

Since the recession of 2008, economic conditions have fluctuated between adequate and poor for the City of Elgin, Illinois, but it has been able to stabilize its bond rating through strong financial policies – most notably, those governing its general fund reserve levels. In fiscal year 2009, on the heels of the largest economic downturn in recent history, Elgin’s revenue picture looked uncertain. The city had demonstrated sound financial stewardship but couldn’t escape the impact of broader, nation-wide, economic conditions. And despite cutting spending by approximately 10%, as well as adopting a new service delivery model, Elgin was worried about its bond rating – the city simply wasn’t in a position to absorb increased borrowing costs.

The Finance Department therefore identified several financial objectives for the coming years and drafted them into formally adopted financial policies. One objective was to maintain or upgrade Elgin’s bond rating by Standard and Poor’s (AA+), Fitch Ratings Services (AA+), and Moody’s Investors Service (Aa2). Making such an explicit statement provided focus, giving the city a clear and easily quantifiable target.

Determining how to achieve this goal was the next step. The city met the challenge by creating additional policies requiring the city to keep cash reserves at 16% to 19% of annual expenditures. The commitment did not go unnoticed by the rating agencies, ultimately resulting in the city gaining AAA status on its general obligation bonds from Fitch Ratings in 2015. Among the positive factors the agency noted were “very strong liquidity in unrestricted government cash and short-term investments” and “very strong budgetary flexibility [due to] available reserves.”

The rating agency’s Financial Management Assessment methodology also found the city’s management conditions to be very strong because of it financial policies and practices.

For more information on Elgin’s financial policies and bond rating, please visit the city’s website.

Related Best Practices/Advisories:

 

Certified Public Finance Officers (CPFO) Program Spring Exams

The CPFO Program is a broad educational self-study program designed to verify knowledge in the disciplines of government finance. To earn the CPFO designation, candidates must pass a series of five examinations covering the major disciplines of public finance.

CPFO exams will be available in the spring at locations across the United States. Exams will also be available at the GFOA Annual Conference in Toronto on Saturday, May 21, 1:30 pm–5:00 pm, and Sunday, May 22, 8:30 am–12:00 pm.

Click here for more information about the exams and the Certification Program.

 

GFOA Awards Program Update

The GFOA encourages and recognizes excellence in financial reporting, budgeting, and financial management by granting awards to those governments that meet program standards. The GFOA sponsors seven awards programs:

Below is the latest program update: 

  • Canadian Award for Financial Reporting Program
    Congratulations to 65 entities for receiving the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting for fiscal year ended 2014 reports. We would also like to thank those individuals for volunteering to review the reports. Click here for information on participating in the program.
  • Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program
    The due date to submit September 30, 2015, fiscal year ended reports to the Certificate Program is March 31, 2016. Once a comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) is prepared, submit it along with a completed application. The normal submission deadline is six months following a government’s fiscal year end. Requests to extend the deadline as a result of various factors (e.g., employee turnover, implementation of major pronouncements, audit issues, etc.). may be made by e-mailing the CAFR Program. Extensions are available in one-month increments. Click here for more information on how to participate and/or become a reviewer in the program.
  • Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program
    The GFOA wishes to thank the more than 525 professionals who completed a budget review this past calendar year. We appreciate their invaluable contribution to the goal of improving the quality of state and local government budget documents. Click here to view a complete list of reviewers and to download an application if interested in becoming a budget reviewer. If you have questions about the program, contact John Fishbein.
    Attached is a list of governments in your state that earned the Budget Award in January 2016. Budgets receiving the award for the first time are identified by the phrase “FIRST-TIME WINNER.” The GFOA encourages you to contact each of the first-time award winners and to offer to arrange a formal presentation of the award. If you have any questions regarding the award winners, please contact Kathie Schultz, Senior Program Associate, GFOA Technical Services Center.
  • Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award Program
    GFOA’s Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) Program recognizes individual governments that successfully produce high quality annual reports which are specifically designed to be easily accessible and understandable to the general public and other interested parties. Click here for a list of the governments that received the PAFR Award in fiscal year 2014 and click here to view a list of reviewers for fiscal year ended in 2014. Both lists will be available on the GFOA’s website in the coming weeks. Read more about the PAFR Program or e-mail us.

 

Do you have an upcoming annual conference?

If so, please fill out the “GFOA Promotional Items” form, checking off any materials you are interested in receiving for your upcoming annual conference. The form is interactive, so you can type and save your changes directly to the document. Submit the completed form at least two months before your event to Kate Southard. If your state or provincial association has any new educational or mentor programs to promote or events at your annual conference to connect fellow finance officers and advance the profession, we will share the information in this monthly memorandum. Please send a brief description of your program to Kate Southard.  


Washington Update

Please find attached the latest Washington Update prepared by our Federal Liaison Center in Washington, DC. More information may also be found on the Federal Government Relations section of GFOA’s website.