State/Provincial Update - January 31, 2018

Introducing GFOA State/Provincial 
President and Representative Forum on Facebook

You can now connect with other GFOA state and provincial presidents and representatives by joining the new GFOA “State/Provincial President and Representative Forum” on Facebook. This group will allow you to easily interact with the leadership from other associations across the United States and Canada and GFOA staff to share information with your colleagues and to learn more about GFOA’s activities. You can start conversations, ask questions, provide feedback, and so much more. 


Click here to log onto Facebook and to request to join the group. If you would like additional members of your team to be added or if you have any questions about how to join, please e-mail GFOA Social Media.

Washington Update



Click here to access the latest Washington Update. More information may also be found on the Federal Government Relations section of GFOA’s website.

What You Need to Know about GFOA’s Annual Conference

We’re excited for GFOA’s 112th Annual Conference, May 6─9, at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, Missouri. If you have not yet added these details to your website, we ask that you please do so.

Important Information for State/Provincial Presidents and Representatives

  • We will hold the rate of $380 for all GFOA state and provincial representatives and presidents through the span of the conference. Submit the conference registration form and write “State/Provincial President/Representative” on it. Once registered for the conference, reserve your hotel room in GFOA’s official block.

  • Will your organization be holding a meeting or social event at the Annual Conference? If so, please e-mail the date, time, and location of your event as well as the name, phone number, and e-mail address of your main contact to Kate Southard. We will have a listing of events available at the Message Center onsite in St. Louis. Please Note: We ask that your social event not conflict with any GFOA sessions or social events. Click here to view a tentative schedule of GFOA’s conference sessions. Open nights to host a hospitality event are: Saturday, May 5, after 5:00 pm; Sunday, May 6, after 6:30 pm; and Monday, May 7, after 5:30 pm.

  • This year’s annual meeting of state and provincial representatives and presidents will take place on Saturday, May 5, 3:00−4:00 pm (Time is tentative), in America’s Center Convention Complex (Room TBA). We urge you to e-mail any suggested topics for discussion to add to the meeting’s agenda to Natalie Laudadio. You will receive a finalized agenda before the meeting date. 

Important Information to Share with Your Members

The early discount deadline to save on the registration fee for the Annual 
 Conference ends February 1. Click here to register today.


  • A tentative listing of this year’s conference sessions and schedule is available here.

  • Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, and Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, and bestselling author, will address GFOA delegates as this year’s keynote speakers. Read more. 

  • Encourage your members to apply for a first-time Annual Conference attendee scholarship. GFOA will award up to 50 scholarships per state or province to GFOA active government members who have never attended GFOA’s Annual Conference. Scholarships will be awarded in the order of which applications are received. In four years, the scholarship has enabled almost 1,700 recipients to attend their first Annual Conference. Please note that all of the scholarships available for the State of Missouri have been awarded.

If you have any questions about the Annual Conference, contact GFOA.

2018 Annual Conference Logo 

 

GFOA Training Coming to Your Area

Thank you to the state presidents and representatives that worked with us to avoid any scheduling conflicts in planning our upcoming training calendar.

We appreciate you making your members aware of GFOA seminars coming to your area — check out our schedule here. Early and group registration discounts are available for these courses.

Keep watch for Internet training seminars to be added. If you have any questions about GFOA training, contact GFOA.

 

Share What You Learned During This Year’s GAAP Update

Thank you to the more than 6,000 participants who participated in the 22nd Annual Governmental GAAP Update web-stream event. A recording of the program is now available for purchase. *

For those who participated in the program, the recording is a great way to refresh your memory of the material. If you were unable to participate, the recording is ideal for training.

Click here for more information and to order the recording.

*Please note that CPE credits are not awarded for watching the recorded program.

Save the Date!


The 23rd Annual Governmental GAAP Update web-streaming event will take place, 1:00 – 5:00 pm (Eastern), on the following days:

  • Thursday, November 1, 2018
  • Wednesday, December 5, 2018 (encore presentation)
  • Thursday, January 24, 2019 (encore presentation)


 

Increasing Trust and Financial Sustainability through Transparency: Part 2, Fair Pricing

Trust produces financial sustainability for local governments, and transparency is a means to obtaining this end. However, financial sustainability is not simply a matter of dollars and cents. A local government has three fundamental responsibilities that are essential to reaching financial sustainability: equitable responsibility, fair pricing, and fiduciary responsibility. This article will cover fair pricing, which refers to the responsibility of each jurisdiction to ensure basic services are provided at prices that are fair to current and future residents.  

Fair pricing is about providing services at a reasonable cost to current and future residents. “Fair” is the key word. This is because whenever governments think about which services to provide and at what prices, there will be “winners” and “losers” in the decisions that are made. According to the concept of procedural justice, the perceived fairness of the decision-making process is crucial to the acceptance of these decisions and, ultimately, trust in the institution. 

Governments can a start with transparency on the values behind how prices are set. A straightforward illustration is user fees. Some services seek to recover the full cost of providing the service through the fees charged to customers. For these services, such as utilities or building permits, there is an underlying belief that people who use services should pay the full cost of producing it. For other types of services, the government might accept fees that don’t cover the entire cost of the service – such as might be the case for an afterschool recreation program for at-risk youth. A user fee policy adopted by the governing board can make these values transparent. The City of San Luis Obispo, in California, provides an illustration of such a policy. The City’s policy describes which services are expected to recover their full cost through user fees and which services will be partially subsidized through general tax dollars. The policy describes the criteria used to reach this decision. For example, services that produce benefits for the entire community, rather than just for the person who uses the service, are eligible for a subsidy.

Setting fair tax rates is not as clear-cut as setting user fees, but local governments can still introduce transparency into how tax rates are set. For example, a government might recognize that a general community-wide tax supports a certain basic level of service, but segments of the community that want additional services should pay additional taxes. For instance, San Bernardino County, in southern California, covers one of the largest geographic areas of any county in the United States. In much of the County, snowfall is not a concern. However, in mountainous parts of the County snowfall is a concern. In some of these areas, residents want more frequent snow removal, so San Bernardino County establishes special taxing districts in those areas to pay for the cost. Hence, there is direct connection established between what taxpayers pay and what they get, and “premium” snow removal in some parts of the County is not subsidized by taxpayers in other parts of the County. Further, taxpayers living in the districts must petition to form the districts, then vote them into existence, and can vote to dissolve them at any time. Because these districts are not imposed, citizens feel they are fair. 

The City of Redmond, Washington, provides transparency on how the City sets tax rates with their “price of government” policy. The price of government compares the City’s revenues with the total personal income of all Redmond residents. This reveals how much of citizens’ resources are being consumed by the City and provides a good context for the City Council to discuss future tax rates. The chart below shows historical trends in Redmond’s price of government as well as the presumed effect of the forecasted revenue on the price of government. The chart contains three layers. The first is all the taxes the City receives, such as property, sales, utility, hotel, admission, etc. The second layer adds on user fees, including utility user fees, recreation fees, and development fees. The last layer reaches a total for the entire city by adding the City’s remaining revenue sources, such as licensing charges, fines, interest income, and grants. The chart also shows the City of Redmond’s desired range of the price of government: 5 to 5.5 percent of personal income, as set by City Council policy. And it shows the reasons for why the City has gone above that range. The range was arrived at by debate among the City Council members about the minimum level of revenue necessary to provide the level of service that Redmond residents expect and the maximum level of financial burden that Redmond municipal government should place on its citizens.

Of course, citizens must receive sufficient benefit in return for any financial contribution they make in order for a price to be considered “fair.” Open data and allowing citizens to check government’s work has been the gold standard in transparency initiatives so far. For example, the Citizen-Centric Report from Syracuse City, Utah compares revenues to expenditures, and then shows the distribution of specific revenue sources and expenditure categories.  

Governments might be able to do more to demonstrate value-for-money to citizens upfront, before they make a financial contribution. For instance, the City of Roanoke, Virginia, found itself short of funding for its schools in an anti-tax climate. In response, the City proposed a two percentage-point increase in the City’s meal tax, the proceeds of which would go for public education. A key reason that the tax passed is because taxpayers could easily appreciate the connection between their contribution to the community’s finances and the resulting benefit. There is a belief among government finance officers that tax measures that are connected to a specific purpose are more acceptable to citizens that those that are not connected. Hence, governments may have the opportunity build trust with citizens for taxes and fees by showing a direct connection between the taxes/fees paid and the services/benefits produced.
Finally, inherent in the corporate responsibility is intergenerational equity, which is simply to say that today’s budget should not be balanced on the backs of tomorrow’s taxpayers. For example, if a government is accumulating debt or other unfunded liabilities at an unsustainable rate, then it should be reported and publicized among stakeholders. For example, long-term forecasts should include long-term costs, like maintaining assets to a reasonable standard of quality.  

Next month, we’ll cover fiduciary responsibility. If you have any questions, please contact Shayne Kavanagh.

 

New Certified Public Finance Officers (CPFOs)

GFOA’s Certified Public Finance Officers Program is a broad educational self-study program designed to verify knowledge in the disciplines of government finance. Attaining certification is a mark of excellence in government finance. To earn the CPFO designation, candidates must pass a series of five examinations covering the major disciplines of public finance.

Congratulations to the following individuals who recently achieved a CPFO designation:

  • Lisa Breeden, Chief of Financial Management, County of Albemarle, Virginia
  • Denise Carlson, Assistant Financial Director, Williamson County Juvenile Services, Texas
  • Steffanie Dorn, Finance Director, Greenwood, South Carolina
  • Marissa Dychitan, Senior Accountant, Otay Water District, California
  • Jill Johnson, Accounting Manager, Boulder County, Colorado
  • William Jones, City Administrator, Mequon, Wisconsin
  • Stephanie Kirby, Deputy Treasurer, Greendale, Wisconsin
  • Debbie Parsons, Assistant Finance Director, Benton County, Oregon
  • Mike Sung, Deputy Finance Director, Fremont, California
  • Tina Ward, Budget & Financial Reporting Manager, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois

There are now 735 individuals who have achieved the CPFO designation. The next CPFO exams will be available this spring at locations across the United States.

Click here for more information about the Certification Program.

 

GFOA Awards Program Update

GFOA encourages and recognizes excellence in financial reporting, budgeting, and financial management by granting awards to those governments that meet program standards. Below is the latest program update:

  • Participating in GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting

GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFR) that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. More than 4,300 governments participate in the program each year, which include all types (general purpose and special purpose) and all sizes.

It’s easy to participate! Once the 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 may be made one month at a time as a result of various factors (e.g., employee turnover, implementation of major pronouncements, audit issues, etc.).

Due date to submit September 30, 2017, fiscal year ended reports to the CAFR Program is March 31, 2018.

Extensions are available if you are not able to meet the normal submission deadline. You can request an extension by e-mailing CAFR Program.

Click here for information if you are interested in participating in the CAFR Program or serving as a reviewer. 




  • Distinguished Budget Awards Program Winners

View a list of governments in your state that earned GFOA’s Distinguished Budget 
 Presentation Award in December 2017. For more information contact John Fishbein.


  • Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award Program



GFOA’s Popular Annual Financial Reporting (PAFR) Program recognizes individual governments that successfully produce high quality annual reports that are specifically designed to be easily accessible and understandable to the general public and other interested parties.

The PAFR Program received over 400 submissions for reports with fiscal years ended in 2016. The 2017 Program Results, which will list the recipients of the award for fiscal years ended in 2016, will be posted to the PAFR webpage in the coming weeks.

GFOA would like to congratulate the following governments for achieving the PAFR Award for the first-time:

        • Town of Castle Rock, Colorado
        • City of Edmonds, Washington
        • City of Lakewood, Washington

If you are interested in participating in the PAFR Program or serving as a volunteer reviewer, click here or e-mail PAFR Program.

  • Canadian Award for Financial Reporting Announced

Congratulations to the following governments in Canada for recently receiving the awards from the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting (CAnFR) Program for financial reports with the fiscal years ended in December 31, 2016.

Alberta

City of Airdrie; City of Brooks; City of Calgary; City of Edmonton; City of Lethbridge; City of Medicine Hat; City of St. Albert; County of Lethbridge; County of Newell; Edmonton Library Board; Parkland County; Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo; Strathcona County; Sturgeon County; Town of High River; Town of Stony Plain; Town of Taber; Vulcan County

British Columbia

City of Abbotsford; City of Burnaby; City of Coquitlam; City of Duncan; City of Fort St. John; City of Kamloops; City of Kelowna; City of Maple Ridge; City of Port Alberni; Corporation of the City of Port Coquitlam; City of Port Moody; City of Richmond; City of Salmon Arm; City of Surrey; Corporation of the City of Trail; City of Vernon; City of Victoria; Corporation of the District of Central Saanich; Corporation of the District of North Cowichan; Corporation of the District of Pitt Meadows; Corporation of the District of Saanich; Cowichan Valley Regional District; District of Coldstream; District of Kent; District of Lake County; District of Mission; District of North Saanich; District of West Vancouver; Regional District of Nanaimo; Sunshine Coast Regional District; Town of Oliver; Town of Sidney

New Brunswick


City of Moncton

Northwest Territories

City of Yellowknife

Ontario

Corporation of the City of Brampton; Corporation of the City of Brantford; Corporation of the City of Cambridge; City of Greater Sudbury; Corporation of the City of Markham; City of Mississauga; City of Toronto; Corporation of the Town of Oakville; County of Wellington; Regional Municipality of Durham; Regional Municipality of Halton; Regional Municipality of Niagara; Regional Municipality of Peel; Regional Municipality of York; Town of Caledon; Town of Milton; Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Saskatchewan


City of Prince Albert; City of Regina; City of Saskatoon

Yukon


City of Whitehorse

GFOA would like to thank the following individuals, who were reviewers for the program:

      • Cathy An, Finance Manager, Corporate Financial Reporting, City of Calgary, Alberta
      • Mark Beauparlant, Manager, Corporate Financial Services, City of Mississauga, Ontario
      • Kris Boland, Director of Finance, District of Mission, British Columbia
      • Ana Chan, Senior Manager, Enterprise, KPMG, Vaughan, Ontario
      • Marie Chan, Senior Financial Analyst, City of Vaughan, Ontario
      • Jackie Dueck, Controller, City of Kelowna, British Columbia
      • Fiona Filmore, Manager, Accounting Service Delivery, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
      • Lorraine Laplante, Manager of Accounting/ Deputy Treasurer, City of Greater Sudbury, Ontario
      • Jackie Lee Macchiusi, Procurement Manager, Client Relations and Category Management, City of Vaughan, Ontario
      • Kyra Macfarlane, Corporate Accounting Manager, City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
      • Aleks Nelson, Senior Financial Advisor, Alberta Municipal Affairs
      • Chris Parkins, Manager, Municipal Advisory, Alberta Municipal Affairs
      • John Quach, Research Analyst, City of Burnaby, British Columbia
      • Antonella Risi, Principal, Public Sector Accounting Board, CPA Canada
      • Scott Ross, Manager of Accounting Services – Finance Department, District of Mission, British Columbia
      • Jorge Silvestre, Finance Reporting Manager, City of Surrey, British Columbia
      • Curtis Smith, Manager, Policy and Risk Management, Finance Department, City of Regina, Saskatchewan
      • Brian Szabo, Partner, KPMG, City of Burnaby, British Columbia
      • Kevin Travers, Audit Partner, KPMG, Vaughan, Ontario

For more information on participating in the CAnFR Program, click here.

 

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. Please note: raffle items are limited to Annual Conferences.



Share! 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 Natalie Laudadio.