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.

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Federal Budget Deal Enacted, Preventing Federal Default and Reopening SLGS Window

November 5, 2015

On November 2, 2015, the president signed into law a two-year budget agreement that raises spending caps by $80 billion above the levels agreed to under federal sequestration in 2011. The cap increases – $50 billion in FY 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017 – were split evenly between defense and non-defense accounts.

Minneapolis Uses Web-Based Financial Transparency Tools

November 5, 2015

One of the changes the City of Minneapolis made after its 2013 mayoral election was adding a new strategic goal: creating a better connection to the community it served. To this end, the city increased its financial transparency, moving beyond the 500-page budget document it had published in PDF format to online tools that presented information in a clear, user-friendly way.

Back to Basics in Los Angeles: Data Dashboards

October 29, 2015

As part of the mayor’s Back to Basics program, the City of Los Angeles, California, embarked on an open data initiative aimed at providing up-to-date information about the city’s performance on key initiatives and progress toward city-wide goals. The open data portion of the Back to Basics program sought to provide residents and employees with information that would help them better understand the city’s challenges, creating greater visibility that would lead to solutions.

Lessons in eProcurement: Raleigh, North Carolina

October 22, 2015

Governments have long focused on developing efficient procurement processes, and creating modern procurement systems that make use of technological advances create their own challenges. The City of Raleigh, North Carolina, was grappling with these challenges and had grown frustrated with its traditional procurement process, which relied heavily on a paper-based system and made spending difficult to track. In an effort to modernize its approach to procurement and take advantage of the technology now available, Raleigh’s finance department started work on an electronic purchasing system.

GFOA Debt Committee Releases White Paper on Green Bonds

October 8, 2015

Green bond issuance has generated significant recent attention as this market continues to expand. In 2014, there were 35 issuers of green bonds worldwide, totaling $36.6 billion in par amount, which is more than three times the 2013 volume of $10 billion. In the first quarter of calendar 2015, the global volume reported by the World Bank was $8 million. Green bond issuance by U.S. state and local governments represents less than 10% of these amounts.

GFOA Hosts Meeting to Discuss Implementing School Budgeting Best Practices

October 8, 2015

Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting members met last week at GFOA’s office in Chicago to develop a set of guiding principles for the budget process, based on GFOA’s new best practices. These guidelines center on aligning district resources with the areas that will have greatest impact on student achievement. The Alliance members are from 35 school districts across the country, from the largest to some of the smallest, and from urban, suburban, and rural areas.

GFOA Policy Statement on Health-Care Excise Tax Supports Retirement Security

October 1, 2015

Solidifying its position in the conversation on national health-care policy, GFOA’s Executive Board unanimously ratified a policy statement on the 40% excise tax on health plan premiums – the so-called Cadillac tax. This issue is vitally important to states and municipalities, which continue to work diligently within sometimes severe budget constraints to provide benefit plans that will help them attract and retain a quality workforce, in competition with private-sector wages and salaries.

Supreme Court Preview for Local Governments

September 24, 2015

The Supreme Court decided a number of important cases against local governments in its last term. The most notable of these was Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, which held that strict scrutiny applies to content-based sign ordinances. The October 2015 term will also be one to watch, not just because the Court has accepted numerous cases on controversial topics affecting local governments, but also because many of the court’s decisions this term are likely to be discussed by the 2016 presidential candidates up.

Sacramento Improves the Fee Collection Process

September 17, 2015

Managing a community’s fees and charges can be time consuming; in some cases, just keeping track of each department’s fees can be a major undertaking. The City of Sacramento, California, made an initial effort to address these challenges in 2006 by developing a database of the permits, fees, fines, and license charges the city collected. But while it was a good first step, this initial attempt to create a central repository for all city related fees was incomplete.

GFOA Announces Members of Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting

September 14, 2015

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) announced the members of its Alliance for Excellence in School Budgeting. The Alliance is composed of 35 school districts working with the GFOA to implement the Best Practices in School Budgeting. Alliance members include districts from 21 states across the US serving anywhere from a thousand students up to several hundred thousand students. Memers includes: 

Register for GFOA’s 20th Annual Governmental GAAP Update

September 10, 2015

GFOA’s 20th Annual Governmental GAAP Update will take place on November 5, 2015, with an encore presentation on December 3, from 1-5 p.m. (Eastern), both days. This four-hour presentation will bring you and your staff up-to-date on a year’s worth of developments in accounting and financial reporting, including the latest GASB statements, exposure drafts, and implementation guidance. Receive 4 CPE credits.

Specific topics to be covered include:

Transformative Engagement in School Budgeting

September 3, 2015

Harford County (Maryland) Public Schools (HCPS) faced a number of serious challenges – class sizes were increasing, employees hadn’t received pay increases in six years, and employees and the community generally felt that resources were not well managed. Faced with the likelihood of additional cuts, the superintendent of HCPS decided to take a new approach to the district’s budget development process, consulting the community to determine the district’s priorities.

Input Needed: Department of Labor Overtime Rule

September 3, 2015

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum directing the Department of Labor to modernize and streamline existing overtime regulations. The memorandum directs the DOL to propose specific regulations defining which white collar workers are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act governing “white collar” exemption from overtime pay for executive, administrative and professional employees.

Looking Inward: Bond Offerings Exclusively for a Community’s Residents

August 27, 2015

A recent $550 million debt issuance by Denver, Colorado, included an interesting twist – the tail end, some $12 million, was set aside to be sold exclusively to residents. This portion of the offering, referred to as the Mini-Bond Program, sold out within the first hour of availability. The bonds were available for purchase online, making citizen participation easier than past attempts, when the bonds were sold directly to residents.

State and Local Legal Center Reviews the Supreme Court Cases of 2014-2015

August 19, 2015

This week the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) published summaries of this term’s U.S. Supreme Court cases that are important to State and Local Governments. In this guide, the SLLC highlights not only “The Big Cases” but also cases in which the GFOA and other members of the SLLC signed an amicus brief, directing the court to consider the broad legal effects of the court’s decision to state and local governments. The guide includes:

Harnessing Involvement for the Future: Boston Involves Young People in the City’s CIP

August 19, 2015

After finding success with other youth initiatives, the City of Boston, Massachusetts, chose to work with the Participatory Budgeting Project, a New York based citizen engagement organization, to involve young Bostonians in the city’s capital improvement planning process. They began by asking for one youth representative from each of the roughly 70 youth service organizations throughout the city, and 50 groups responded with volunteers to create a steering committee for the project.

New GFOA Board Members

August 17, 2015

Heather A. Johnston, City Manager, City of Burnsville, Minnesota, became the new president of the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) at the association’s annual business meeting on June 2, 2015. During the past year, Johnston served on the Executive Board as president-elect. She has been a member of the Executive Board since 2011. Johnston accepted the gavel from 2014-2015 President Robert W. Eichem, Chief Financial Officer, City of Boulder, Colorado.