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May 2013 MiniNews

  • Willdan Financial Services
  • Harris.
  • Cutwater Asset Management
  • PFM Asset Management LLC
  • Bartle Wells

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*Please note that updates are continually made to the Job Board section of the MiniNews (PDF format) after its original release. Check the Job Board regularly.


President’s Message

By: Pauline Marx, City and County of San Francisco

Join us in San Francisco for the 107th Annual GFOA Conference

The Government Finance Officers Association is preparing for its annual conference in San Francisco. The conference runs from Sunday, June 2 to Wednesday, June 5, with Preconference seminars on Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. As of April 26 registration totaled 4,382 attendees with almost 1,000 of them coming from California. GFOA is expecting a total attendance of 7,000.

As always, there are some great looking sessions. If you have not already registered, I want you to keep in mind that GFOA has extended the early registration rate for California members. You can still register for the full conference for $380. There is also a One-Day-Rate registration of $215 for Government Members which can be used for Monday or Tuesday. In addition, GFOA reports that there are still hotel rooms available.

With so many people attending, CSMFO will be having a reception for members on Monday June 3, from 5-7 p.m. at Fang, 660 Howard Street in San Francisco. All CSMFO members are welcome to attend. Please RSVP to melissa.dixon@staff.csmfo.org no later than Friday May 31. I hope to see you there!

 


Executive Director’s Message

By: Melissa Dixon, CAE

Don’t you just love Spring? As I type this the birds are sweetly chirping outside my window and the morning air has that crispness to it that only comes at the start of a beautiful day. Soon the temperatures will settle into triple digits and the muggy summer air will make it hard to stay outdoors, but for now everything is lovely and temperate and waiting. Can you sense the possibilities? The very name of the month prompts one to wonder what may be.

But enough of my musings! I wanted to let you all know that the CSMFO Board of Directors has decided where our conferences will be for 2015 and 2016.

Save the Dates!

February 18-20, 2015
Monterey Convention Center and Portola Plaza

March 2-7, 2016
Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim

We’re very excited about these next two locations. It’s been ages since we’ve been to Monterey and Disney is always a big hit (maybe we can break 1,000 attendees this time!).

And of course we can’t wait for our 2014 Annual Conference, which will be held at the Renaissance and Convention Center in downtown Palm Springs (free shuttle from the Palm Springs airport!). The dates are February 19-21, 2014…is there any better time of year to be there?? Planning for this conference is already underway, with the current task being deciding on a theme. If any of you have any ideas for a theme, pass them onto me at melissa.dixon@staff.csmfo.org and I’ll pass them along to the committee for consideration.

As always, thank you for your continued participation in CSMFO!

 


CSMFO Opposes AB 279

At its April 25 meeting the CSMFO Board took an “oppose unless amended” position on Assembly Bill 279, which was introduced by Assemblymember Dickinson.

The bill seeks to expand the current law, California Government Code Sections 53601.8 and 53635.8, to allow municipalities to use a placement service such as CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) for “all deposits” and not just certificates of deposit as the law currently allows. However, in its current form, the proposed bill applies the legal 30 percent maximum allocation of the agency’s monies for certificates of deposit to all deposits, including conventional bank deposits. Bank deposits and other kinds of deposits (public time deposits, certificates of deposit and negotiable certificates of deposit) are lumped together as a single category, when in fact they have very different liquidity attributes. This change is problematic because bank deposits are not traditionally considered investments and are not subject to an allocation limit.

Other issues with the bill include its provision that on the “same date” that the funds are deposited, the funds are to be insured up to the principal and interest amounts. We can envision a case where an agency receives a large lump sum deposit over the current $250,000 maximum FDIC insurance limit, such as property taxes, state monies or bond proceeds and is required to have it insured that same day or be non-compliant. In addition the bill contains a modification to reporting requirements that causes a decrease in transparency.

We believe that the negative impacts listed above were unintentional and are offering revised language to correct the deficiencies. If amended, CSFMO would be able to drop its opposition to the bill.

Our sister organization, California Municipal Treasurers Association (CMTA), has taken the same “oppose unless amended” position, as have a number of Counties. If you or your agency would like further information or are interested in taking an independent position on this bill, please contact CSMFO Executive Director Melissa Dixon, to request a copy of CSMFO’s position letter.

 


CSMFO’s Accounting and Fiscal Policy Classes

CSMFO offers Introductory, Intermediate Governmental Accounting and Fiscal Policy Training classes throughout the year. Each class is taught separately by highly respected instructors. We are thankful to our instructors for their time and commitment. One of our long time instructor’s, Kathryn Beseau, for the Intermediate Governmental Course, retired and we want to thank her for her years of service to CSMFO. In February the Board approved a new contract with Susan Mayer who will assume the role of instructor. We are excited to have her on board to teach this important intermediate course, and will begin to schedule courses soon. We have also been busy scheduling courses for the upcoming years but we are still looking for host agencies. To date, we are excited to offer the following Accounting and Fiscal Policy Classes. Please look to see where you or your staff can benefit from these courses.

Introduction to Government Accounting – Instructor Ahmed Badawi

West Basin Municipal Water District – May 23, 2013

City of Ceres – June 19, 2013

Power of Fiscal Policies / Long Term Financial Planning – Instructor Bill Statler

City of Riverside – May 9, 2013

Coachella Valley Water District – September 12, 2013

City of Lakeport – October 10, 2013

Interested in Hosting? Here are the requirements:

The accounting classes are appropriate for individuals that have some accounting background, but may be new to the government sector or for employees who have recently assumed responsibility for financial and accounting reporting. The classes are also appropriate for anyone interested in brushing up on basic government accounting skills. Once a basic understanding of accounting concepts is reached, these concepts can easily be applied to the unique requirements of the governmental area.

Host site requirements for the accounting classes include:

  • A minimum of 20 registrants
  • Seating for 60 participants with tables and chairs
  • One rectangular table up front for speaker
  • Table and chair in back for registration
  • ***Room open and available at 8:00 a.m. for set-up (*** 7:30 a.m. for Intermediate classes)
  • Parking alternatives for up to 60 participants, preferably free parking
  • A computer with a remote to advance PowerPoint slides
  • A port to allow for a USB flash drive
  • A screen and projector

The host site will need to provide lunch (with beverages) and light morning/afternoon refreshments for the attendees. The host site will be reimbursed actual costs up to $15 per attendee, including the instructor, by CSMFO.

The Fiscal Policy Training classes are offered as half-day or one-day sessions. Good times come and go, but your values shouldn’t – which is what fiscal policies are all about. Setting clearly articulated fiscal policies builds a strong foundation for protecting your agency’s long-term fiscal health. As recent economic events have shown, no agency is immune to economic downturns. But agencies with clear fiscal policies in place with a tradition of following them have a significant strategic edge over those that don’t. Policies make tough decisions easier by providing guidance both when times are good by preventing problems to begin with, as well as when the inevitable tough times do arrive.

Host site requirements for the fiscal policy training classes include:

  • A minimum of 10 registrants
  • Seating for 60 participants with tables and chairs
  • One rectangular table up front for speaker
  • Table and chair in back for registration
  • ***Room open and available at 7:30 a.m. for set-up (*** 12:30 p.m. for afternoon sessions)
  • Parking alternatives for up to 60 participants, preferably free parking
  • A computer with a remote to advance PowerPoint slides
  • A port to allow for a USB flash drive
  • A screen and projector
  • Location convenient to lunch options for attendees (preferred)

The host site will NOT need to provide lunch or refreshments for the attendees. Attendees are on their own for lunch.

For all classes, the host site gets two free attendees. Unless otherwise provided by the hosting agency, one of the attendees will be designated to registering participants, checking room set-up, assisting the presenter, assisting with food and assisting with set-up as needed.

CSMFO will handle the online registrations and fees for the classes.

CSMFO and the host site will be responsible for marketing and promoting the courses. The host site is strongly encouraged to market and promote the courses to local agencies and chapters to maximize attendance.

If you are interested and able to host any of the classes in 2013, or for more information please contact Margaret Moggia, Board Liaison to Career Development Committee, at margaretm@westbasin.org.

 


Coaching Corner

Editor’s Note: In the previous feature column of the Coaching Corner, retired Finance Director and CSMFO Senior Advisor Mary Bradley brought us valuable insights on the dizzying pace of change in the profession and how CSMFO is uniquely situated to keep us all in the loop.

This column focuses on the importance of the CSMFO network, and how being involved creates pathways to success both individually and collectively. This Coaching Corner article is brought to you by Drew Corbett, Assistant Finance Director with the City of Sunnyvale. Drew began his municipal finance career in 2005 after working in the private sector for several years. Hired by the City of Sunnyvale as a Budget Analyst, Drew now serves as that agency’s Assistant Director of Finance, overseeing the Budget, Accounting, Payroll and Accounts Payable functions. His message for success is deceptively simple: Be involved!

CSMFO: It’s Not Just for Accounting Classes

By Drew Corbett, Assistant Director of Finance for the City of Sunnyvale and CSMFO Board Member

It is a pleasure to be sharing information and insights on my experiences with the CSMFO network of professionals and resources, and most importantly how these interactions have broadened my knowledge of California municipal finance, increased and strengthened my professional relationships, and assisted in my career development.

Like most of you, my introduction to the world of California municipal finance was met with a bewildering array of governmental accounting rules, complex and sometimes conflicting regulations, and the tangled web that is the state-local fiscal relationship. My first step was to hire a professional assistant to show me the ropes! In all seriousness, the best advice I could have received came from my supervisor, who encouraged me to join CSMFO and sign up for Introduction to Government Accounting. So, that’s what I did.

Sometime between attending my first annual conference and immersing myself in the weekend training program, I received the next bit of encouragement: Join a CSMFO committee. So I did. The committee was Career Development, and my involvement in it has led me in other directions, including an opportunity to serve on the CSMFO Board of Directors.

In between, I have had the opportunity to attend timely and informative conference calls, webinars and conference programs as both participant and presenter, and work closely with a very talented group of people highly dedicated to promoting excellence in financial management.

If CSMFO’s educational offerings have been indispensable in learning the ropes of municipal finance, the relationships forged over the past several years have been invaluable in my professional development. I encourage you, as I was encouraged, to be involved in all that CSMFO has to offer.

 


CalPERS Rate Changes Approved and More Expected

Just as the pension community is trying to understand effects of the new AB 340/PEPRA legislation, CalPERS has three big changes on the horizon. Each of these changes would increase employer contribution rates. The three changes and probability of implementation are:

  • New amortization and smoothing methods (adopted)
  • Reduced discount rate (likely)
  • Increased life expectancy projection (expected).

These changes are not the result of benefit increases. Rather, they are the actuary’s attempt to better anticipate the true long-term cost of current benefits, and to fund for them in a balanced way that produces smooth contribution rates and does not defer costs to the future.

1. New CalPERS Amortization Periods and Smoothing Methods, Effective FY 2015/16

The proposed new actuarial methods presented by Chief Actuary Alan Milligan were adopted at the April 17, 2013 CalPERS Board meeting.

  • What did the Chief Actuary recommend?

– Smooth employer contribution rates directly, rather than smoothing asset values and hoping that will produce smooth contribution rates:

  • Use market value of assets to set contribution rates, eliminate asset corridor and actuarial asset value
  • Set fixed amortization periods for future gains and losses – 5-year ramp up plus 20 years full payment plus 5-year ramp down (will include the difference between market and actuarial value of assets at 6/30/2013)
  • Set fixed amortization periods for future assumption changes – 5-year ramp up plus 10 years full payment plus 5-year ramp down
  • Do not smooth the Normal Cost.

– Convert all existing rolling amortization periods to fixed periods.

  • What will be the result?

– Year-to-year changes in rates will be somewhat higher in most years, but lower in years with extreme market events.
– Funded status will improve faster – all gains/losses will be fully amortized and paid for 30 years after they occur.
– Employer rates are going up, beginning in 2015/16. CalPERS provided 2 sample public agency plan projected rates:

Sample Plan Current Method’s Rate Proposed Method’s Rate 5-Year Net
Increase*
2015/16 2019/20 2015/16 2019/20
Miscellaneous 16.8% 19.6% 17.8% 23.0% 6.2%
Safety 29.3% 33.9% 30.8% 39.5% 10.2%

* The change from the current method’s 2015/16 rate to the proposed method’s 2019/20 rate.

– A possible change to level dollar amortization for pooled plan side funds, which would result in increased short-term side fund payments. The new policies provide flexibility for the CalPERS actuaries to do this.

  • When will the change happen?

– Employer rates will first be affected for 2015/16. CalPERS is planning to provide employers with cost increase estimates in the upcoming valuation reports (October or November of 2013).

  • Why change methods?

– Current asset smoothing provides for very stable rates in most years. However, an extreme market event would mean a large change in the employer contribution rate – a result no one wants.
– Recent studies have shown very slow progress toward full funding for many plans.
– Having two asset measures (market and actuarial) and two funded status measures can be confusing and even misused; CalPERS thinks the process should have greater transparency.
– New methods would better align with new accounting standard GASB 68, effective in 2014/15. For many plans, GASB 68 methodology would project a shortfall in assets attributable to current plan members under the current contribution policy, which would require disclosure and use of a reduced discount rate.

2. Reduced Discount Rate Assumption, Likely Effective FY 2015/16

Results of CalPERS’ asset/liability study in November-December 2013 will yield more information about possible direction of the discount rate assumption. The CalPERS actuaries’ economic assumptions study will be completed in early 2014.

  • What is the probable outcome?

Upon completion of the study, the Chief Actuary said he expects to recommend the Board drop the discount rate 0.25% or 0.5%, and that it likely will adopt a 0.25% drop, to 7.25%. The corresponding increase in employer contribution rates would be phased in over 5 years, with roughly half the impact in the first year. This will be on top of the rate increase from changing actuarial methods described above.

  • How much will rates go up by changing the discount rate?

To gauge magnitude, employers can refer to Appendix D-3, Analysis of Discount Rate Sensitivity, in their valuation reports for the increase from a 1% drop in discount rate. Suppose this decrease resulted in an 8% contribution rate increase. If the actual discount rate drops 0.25%, the contribution rate will rise roughly 2% (or ¼ of 8%), with about 1% (from higher Normal Cost and a portion of amortization of additional unfunded liability) effective the first year and the remaining 1% (remaining amortization of additional unfunded liability) phased in over the next 4 years.

3. Increased Projected Life Expectancies Assumption, Likely Effective FY 2015/16

CalPERS will also be looking at demographic actuarial assumptions in a study to be completed in early 2014. The Chief Actuary commented he does not expect many demographic assumption changes from the experience study. However, he does expect to recommend improved future mortality rates. A person age 70 today is anticipated to live longer than someone that age would have lived 30 years ago. Current CalPERS assumptions are based on recent data, but do not take this future longevity improvement into account. The Chief Actuary will almost certainly recommend changing the mortality assumptions. Since retirees will be projected to live longer (and collect their pensions longer), employer contribution rates will go up.

  • How much will rates go up for a change in life expectancies?

The Chief Actuary noted employers can expect a roughly 2% to 4% increase in their rates due to the mortality change. In general, Miscellaneous plans will be at the range’s lower end, Safety at the higher end. Plans with a higher volatility index will be higher than average; those with a lower index will be lower than average. About half of the total rate increase (from higher Normal Cost and a portion of amortization of additional unfunded liability) will occur in the first year, with the increase’s second half (remaining amortization of additional unfunded liability) phased in over the next 4 years. This increase will be on top of both rate increases described above.

*******

What can employers do?
Options to reduce employer costs are limited. PEPRA removed the stipulation that employee cost sharing (of the employer cost) be linked to a benefit improvement, so there is no longer any limit to the employee contribution that can be bargained.

Most important, employers should:

  • Understand the impact of these proposed changes and build them into their budgets as soon as possible
  • Be aware of these future increases when they sit down at the bargaining table.

To discuss details of how these changes could affect a specific plan, contact CalPERS-Issues@bartel-associates.com.

 


Welcome New CSMFO Members!

  • Eden Alomeri, Asst. City Treasurer/Acctg Rev Mgr, Oxnard
  • Joseph Arch, President/CEO, JJACPA,Inc.
  • Chris Constantin, Finance Director, Chico
  • Pam Derby, Senior Management Consultant, CPS HR Consulting
  • Greg Fankhanel, Partner, Van Lant & Fankhanel, LLP
  • Michael Frost, Deputy Director, Marin County Public Works
  • Jean Ibalio, ERP System Administrator, Anaheim
  • Lori Koh, Debt Manager, Long Beach
  • Sharon Kreinop, Administrative Assistant, Helendale CSD
  • Greg Kunath, Senior Account Executive, Superior Press
  • Jevin Kusnitzow, Accountant I, Hawthorne
  • Jason Kwan, STUDENT, CSULA, ELAC
  • James Lanzarotta, Partner, Moss Adams LLP
  • Nancy Lassey, ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR, Lake Elsinore
  • Jennifer Max, Finance & Administrative Services Analys, San Juan Water District
  • Marcie Medina, Assistant City Controller, Long Beach
  • Matt Michaelis, Administrative Services Manager, City of Marysville
  • Danielle Mitchell, Financial Controls Manager, Long Beach
  • Benjamin Montgomery, Neighborhood Services Manager, Chino Hills
  • Lorinda Odell, Accounting Manager, Sacramento Regional Fire/EMS Communications Center
  • Raul Purificacion, Finance Manager, La Puente
  • Daniel Thurber, Investment Manager, Long Beach
  • John Whitehouse, Manager, Christy White Accountancy Corporation
  • Brian Whitworth, Senior Vice President, First Southwest Company
  • Genie Wilson, Treasury Manager, Santa Barbara

 


Education Opportunities

Introduction to Government Accounting
May 23, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Ahmed Badawi

Introduction to Government Accounting
June 12, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Ahmed Badawi

Intermediate Governmental Accounting
June 18, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Susan Mayer

 


Chapter Meetings

CSMFO East Bay & CMTA Joint Meeting
May 10

San Gabriel Valley Chapter Luncheon
May 15
Guest Speaker: Kurt Shadle, Tower Capital Management

CSMFO Monterey Bay and CMTA Div 4 Joint Meeting
May 16

Central Valley Chapter Meeting
May 16
Guest Speaker: Stephen Qualls, Central Valley Regional Public

Inland Empire & CMTA Div 8 Meeting
May 23
Guest Speaker: Laura Franke, Public Financial Management, Inc.

Channel Counties Chapter Meeting
May 30
Guest Speaker: Michael Coleman from the City of Camarillo Public Library

 


Career Opportunities

CSMFO provides government finance professionals with numerous resources for enhancing and advancing their careers. Visit the job opportunities page of the CSMFO website for a list of current job openings.

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