By: Jesse Takahashi
Last month, I attended the Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA) conference in Tacoma WA. It was a special year for them as they celebrated their 60th Annual Conference—their Diamond Anniversary. They had over 70 sessions scheduled in addition to seven pre-conference sessions. Stephen Gauthier from GFOA was one of several keynote speakers. His presentation was on the COSO guidelines and, as is the norm for him, the attendance was at capacity. Other speakers included comedian Kent Rader, who got the conference started on a high note with a few laughs and ended with motivational speaker, Dion Jordan who, through his own story of overcoming a disability, was able to regain renewed confidence in his own life, and showing us that we have all the talent we need to succeed already inside us, and to effect successful change, we just need to recognize and acknowledge it. Breakout sessions addressed a variety of topics including GASB updates, budgeting, retirement system issues, investment and debt management, Affordable Care Act, cyber security risks, and leadership/personal development.
Like CSMFO, WFOA reached a new record in attendance, registering close to 800 attendees. It’s interesting to note that Washington municipalities and other local governments have their annual financial audits performed by the State Auditor rather than external CPA firms. Accordingly, the State Auditor provides a significant amount of training and works collaboratively with the local jurisdictions throughout the year. The WFOA includes a significant number of members from both the offices of the State Auditor and State Treasurer.
During the conference, the WFOA also played host to a couple of events in Tacoma including a welcome reception at the Lemay America’s Car Museum that featured an extensive four-level display of automobile history spanning the past century and a dinner at the Museum of Glass featuring the beautiful work of hand blown glass artists from around the world including the internationally renowned Dale Chihuly who was a native of Tacoma. It was a truly enjoyable trip to one of our sister state organizations.
Continuous Improvement is the Goal
As is the custom, the annual planning session and Board meeting was held last month at the sight of our annual conference—in Anaheim. The planning session consisted of updates on the current year’s goals followed by more extensive discussion on a couple of key issues for the organization concerning membership dues structure and whether changes should be made to the current model which has been in place for some time. After considerable discussion, it was felt that additional analysis would be needed to provide more complete data before a recommendation could be brought forward for Board action. The Administration Committee will be following up on this and plans to bring back a proposal at in the near future.
We also discussed at length communications strategy for our organization, and it was felt by many that the various ways in which we now communicate to our members and the outside (via email, announcements, website, etc.) should reflect a more consistent look and feel across the board. This would include our monthly newsletter and use of social media. Having a more unified look will help strengthen CSMFO’s image and better reflect the high level of professional effort that underlies our organization. Work is also underway to make some significant and exciting changes to our existing MiniNews format; more on that to come. Also discussed was how to ensure good succession planning for the organization including volunteer sustainability on CSMFO committees and at the Chapter level. The planning session ended with a teambuilding activity that involved the use of an improvisation instructor that led the group in learning basic improve skills, and we learned how these could be applied to our organizations. It took some of us out of our “comfort zone”, but just about everyone felt it was a beneficial activity that got us out of our shells and allowed us to move and think a bit more freely in ways we may not have been used to doing.
September Board Meeting Items
At the Board meeting the following day, the Board reviewed and discussed renewal of two consultant contracts. First was the renewal of a contract with Michael Coleman which will include a provision to expand the scope for him to speak at more chapter meetings in order to assist those chapters that have some challenges in finding speakers for their meetings. The contract with Smith Moore was also reviewed and discussed with some modifications suggested. It is expected to come back by November for final approval. The contract with Don Maruska is also expected to come back by November for approval with continued emphasis on developing our webinar trainings. Other items considered were the 2016 draft operational budget, and the 2016 annual conference budget was approved by the Board; a report on organizational sustainability and volunteer involvement was presented and discussion followed on how to improve the process for selecting and managing our volunteers on committees and those interested in moving on to leadership roles in the organization and the use of new forms to assist in this process. Lastly, CSMFO’s database system containing member information has been in use for a long time and is in need of replacement. The Board directed SMA to continue researching options and to report back in the future with recommendations.
Want to Become More Involved in CSMFO Leadership?
A nominating committee has been formed and will be meeting this month to put together a slate for the upcoming November Board and Presidential elections. The Committee consists of the following individuals besides myself: President-Elect John Adams, Past-President Pamela Arends-King, Board member Margaret Moggia, Committee Chair Laura Nomura, Chapter Chairs Brad Wilkie (Central Coast) and Robin Bertagna (Sacramento Valley), Members-at-large Mary Bradley and Bob Biery. The Committee will be meeting this month to assemble a candidate slate that can be voted on in November by the membership. If you have been an active member of CSMFO and have an interest in running for one of the open positions, please contact one of the committee members and let them know right away. Ballots will be coming out by early November.
Executive Director’s Message
By: Melissa Dixon, CAE
Happy October everyone! CSMFO just had its annual Planning Session a couple weeks ago at the Disneyland Hotel…and since Jesse is telling you about that, I thought I’d tell you about my when-I-wasn’t-working experiences.
As most of you know by now, I’m a Disney-phile. It’s not about the cartoons or the rides; for me, it’s about the ideals. It’s about the thought that goes into everything Disney does. It’s about the trash cans that are 27 feet apart, because at 28 feet people are more apt to litter. It’s about the vultures at the top of the hill just before you take the plunge on Splash Mountain. It’s about the cast members (not employees—cast members) that have uniforms in the theme of the ride they’re operating. It’s about the gingerbread smell that’s piped into the dining room scene in the Haunted Mansion. It’s about everything with Disney that makes your time there not just a trip, but a complete experience.
Because of this love of The Happiest Place On Earth, I think nothing of shelling out a ridiculous amount of money every time I go to Disneyland. This CSMFO trip in September as no exception. I expanded my 3-day business trip to include 3 extra days for play. One of the things I did while there was the “Jungle Cruise Sunrise Safari Breakfast.” Here’s how the morning went:
We met in the lobby of the Grand Californian at 5:00 a.m. We signed in and got our table number, and then were escorted by a small gaggle of cast members in the pre-dawn through Downtown Disney, through empty and eerie Main Street, into Adventureland (the torches were lit; I thought that was a nice touch), and into the exit of Indiana Jones. Midway through the exit, there was a massive door on the right that led us up a slight incline. At the top of the incline was a plateau, where tables were set up—complete with tablecloths, jungle-print runners and nice china. As we walked to our tables, servers held silver trays of goblets, filled with fresh-squeezed pineapple/orange/guava juice. A old-timey ‘record player’ was set up on one end, playing instrumental music from the ‘40s, and the servers were all in formal attire with jungle-print aprons.
We were served a parfait, made that morning from coconut milk and small-diced mango, cantaloupe and dragonfruit. (There was also some kind of red-berry jelly in it too. I didn’t get details on that, but it was divine.) The main entrée was scrambled eggs, duck sausage, honey-glazed pork belly, potato hash and a tomato relish. (The coffee, for those of you who like coffee, was a special blend served out of a French press.)
During breakfast we were given Jungle Cruise cards. Each card had a part of the ride on it, with a joke for that part of the ride. We were also encouraged to come up with our Secret Skipper name (mine wasMarauding Melissa). We were then led back out through the Indiana Jones exit and onto the exit of the Jungle Cruise, where we boarded our boats. We each got our picture taken at the helm of the boat with the
skipper, and then we were off. When we got to the first joke of the ride, the boat slowed and the skipper asked if anyone knew anything about what we were seeing. The person with that card was given the microphone and was able to read the card/joke over the PA system. (We were also encouraged to make up our own jokes!) When we got back to the dock, we went around again—but this time we were told to swap cards, so we each got a different piece of the ride (and zero time to prepare!). (My second time around I got the lions eating the zebra. I got to say, “Up here we have some lions enjoying their favorite treat—zebra on the rocks. I’d tell you they’re just watching over the zebra, but…I’d be lyin.” (Get it? Lion?!?))
When we got back to the dock the second time, there were souvenir boxes set out for each of us—complete with the picture we’d taken with the skipper on the front. The boxes all held a map of the Jungle Cruise and a souvenir ceremonial mask (ours are now gracing our fireplace mantel).
It was really an amazing experience. They’re only offering this 14 times during this calendar year, but for any fellow Disney fans out there, if you can manage it, I highly recommend it. An unintended CSMFO benefit of doing this breakfast was that I got to meet Robert, the Disney cast member responsible for special events in the park. We’ll be working with him for our private park experience in March. (Did I give too much away? More details about our Thursday night event coming soon!)
Hidden Treasures arrrr Waitin’ to be Found March 2016 – Anaheim
What be happenin’, matey, since we last talked? Well let me tell ye – I’ve been busy creating more treasure to be found! March 2-4, 2016.
There are real gems buried throughout yer conference . . . we be sailin’ on a pair of outstandin’ pre-conference talkers or if ye sailin’ plans allow – arrive for the early bird session (the early bird get the worm). If this is yer first conference we have a ‘member orientation session’. Shiver me timbers! Everyone will want to be at the openin’ session to hear th’ keynote speaker. Ye have no time fo’ doldrums with a full schedule of 60+ trainin’ opportunities. Avast! Ye must save the date of March 2-4, 2016, Matey.
Make your room reservation now!
The special rate for the conference is $179.00 + tax. A limited number of rooms are reserved at this rate. To secure a room please contact the Disneyland® Resort by booking online 24/7 here or by calling (714) 520-5005, M-F from 8 am to 5 pm PST. Reservations must be made by Monday, February 08, 2016 or before the group rooms are sold out, so do not delay. Prevailing rates may apply after this date or when the group rooms are sold out, whichever occurs first. Rooms are subject to availability.
Click here to purchase specially-priced Disneyland® Resort Theme Park tickets. These special ticket prices are not available once you arrive at the Resort. Our ticket store closes at 9:00 PM PST on Sunday, February 28, 2016. Don’t delay!
Prices are subject to change without notice.
CSMFO Board Nominations
The month of October ushers in not only Halloween and the lovely cooler weather, but also nominations for our Board of Directors elections. Each year, we seek a new Board member from the North, a new Board member from the South, and a new President-Elect (which rotates North/South; this year is North). If you are interested in serving on the Board or as an officer, please contact one of the Nominating Committee members listed below. Note that there are typically more nominees than there are spots on the ballot, so it is unlikely that everyone who submits will be on the final slate.
If you’re interested in getting involved as a committee member or in your chapter leadership, this is the time to tell us! We are always looking for new volunteers with fresh ideas. Please fill out the online Volunteer Interest Form if you’d like to be more involved in 2016!
New Parcel Tax Requirements for 2015-16
State Controller’s Office Reporting Changes
By Danielle Wood, Associate Director, NBS
Over the last decade, hundreds of parcel taxes have been imposed by local agencies throughout the State. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, voters approved approximately 180 parcel tax measures to fund a variety of improvements and services provided by cities, counties and special districts between 2001 and 2012. In addition, school districts approved approximately 135 measures during the same time period.
In an effort to provide transparency on the increasingly popular use of parcel taxes, recent legislation has been passed that imposes new requirements on governmental entities to annually report specific parcel tax information no later than the end of January. The reporting requirement applies to most parcel taxes placed on the county secured property tax roll starting with the 2015-16 Fiscal Year.
Parcel Tax defined:
Government code 12463.2 defines “parcel tax” to mean a tax levied by a local agency upon any parcel of property identified using the assessor’s parcel number system, or upon any person as an incident of property ownership pursuant to the California Constitution (Section 4 of Article XIII A) that is collected via the annual property tax bill.
The State Controller’s Office (SCO) provides this definition on their website:
“For purposes of reporting under AB 2109, a parcel tax, per Government Code section 12463.2, is defined as a non-ad valorem tax imposed as an incident of property ownership and collected on the annual property tax bill. Generally, the tax is charged on a parcel of property based on either a flat per parcel rate or a variable rate depending on the size, use and/or number of units on the parcel. A parcel tax includes, but is not limited to, all types of Mello-Roos taxes and special taxes for governmental purposes such as libraries, hospitals, schools, protection services, fire protection, ambulance services, parks, or museums.”
The above definition does state that all Mello-Roos taxes and special taxes for the purposes of schools shall be defined as a parcel tax: oddly enough however, reporting is not required in the case where a school district or state agency is the tax levying agency.
The SCO states that parcel taxes should be reported on the annual Financial Transactions Report (FTR), but that this new reporting should be separate from the revenue section of the FTR. The reporting forms have been provided on the SCO website. The forms request information for the following six items:
• Type and rate of parcel tax imposed
• Number of parcels subject to the parcel tax
• Number of parcels exempt from the parcel tax
• Sunset date of the parcel tax
• Amount of revenue received from the parcel tax
• The manner in which the revenue received from the parcel tax is being used
Welcome New CSMFO Members!
• Ken Matsumiya, City of Vacaville, Senior Accountant, East Bay Chapter
• Barbara Brinson, NIC Services, Payment Platform Director
• Stacy Daugherty City of Pasadena, Fiscal Services Administrator, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
• Robert Mescher, Avalon, Finance Director, South Bay Chapter
• Chris Purves, Purves Insurance, Vice President, Sacramento Valley Chapter
• Lauren Warrem, Vista, Director of Finance/Treasurer, San Diego County Chapter
• Erika Dill, Castaic Lake Water Agency, Administrative Analyst, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
• Susan Cope, Portola, Administrative Services Manager, Peninsula Chapter
• Jack Sparrow, Isla de Muerta, The Southern Isles, Sacramento Valley Chapter
• Steve Ambrose, City of Lincoln, Director of Support Services, Sacramento Valley Chapter
• Jessica Brown, Apple Valley Fire Protection District, Finance Officer, Desert Mountain Chapter
• Mary Eckman, City of Ventura, Assistant Finance Director, Channel Counties Chapter
• Edith Driscoll, Santa Cruz County, Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller, South Bay Chapter
• Angelina Garcia, City of Irvine, Manager of Budget & Business Planning, Orange County Chapter
Intermediate Governmental Accounting, Sacramento FULL
– 21 October, 8:00am – 5:00pm
– Instructed by Susan Mayer
Orange County Chapter and CMTA Division IX
– 29 October 11:30am – 1:30pm
– Speakers: Marianna Marysheva-Matinez, Public Sector Solutions
“Implementing the State Controller’s Internal Controls Guidelines” – Webinar
2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Sponsored by CSMFO Coaching Program
Avoid disasters with effective internal controls. Learn how with guidance from the State Controller’s Office and concrete examples from local governments in California.
The State Controller issued the Internal Controls Guidelines in January 2015 in response to a legislative mandate to “assist local agencies in establishing a system of internal control to safeguard assets and prevent and detect financial errors and fraud.”
* What are the key vulnerabilities that local government agencies face?
* What are the critical internal financial controls to protect your agency?
* How can you implement the State Controller’s Internal Controls Guidelines* applicable to all local agencies?
* Jeff Brownfield, CPA, Chief, Division of Audits, CA State Controller’s Office
* Mike Spalj, Acting Chief, Local Government Audits Bureau, CA State Controller’s Office
* John Adams, President-elect CSMFO, Finance Director, Thousand Oaks
Audience: all local government finance professionals
“Navigating Ethical Issues in Finance” – Webinar
2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 7, 2015
CSMFO Coaching Program
Advance registration required for this no-charge webinar:
Finance professionals at all levels of local government have important ethical responsibilities. Whether you are in accounting, billing, procurement, budgeting, financial planning, or treasury, ethical issues arise. Invite your team to join you for this important discussion.
* What’s the critical role finance professionals play in establishing and maintaining ethical standards?
* What are some important ethical issues and how do you navigate them?
* What resources and support are available to help you do the right thing?
* Dave Mora, ICMA State Liaison, retired City Manager
* Ronnie Campbell, Finance Director, Camarillo, past president CSMFO
Audience: all local government finance professionals
Don Maruska, Master Certified Coach
Director, CSMFO Coaching Program
See “Coaching Corner” at www.csmfo.org/coaching
Don Maruska & Company, Inc. – enjoy being your best
895 Napa Avenue, Suite A-5, Morro Bay, CA 93442
805-772-4667; fax: 805-772-4697; www.DonMaruska.com
Author of “How Great Decisions Get Made” and “Take Charge of Your Talent” www.TakeChargeofYourTalent.com
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.