By: Pamela Arends-King, City of Tustin
Are you familiar with how the CSMFO Chapters are managed? Right now, it’s done entirely through the chapter chairs—scheduling the meetings, booking the venues, managing registration, handling the books, all of it. Most chapter bank accounts are run through the agency of the chapter chair. The Board of Directors at its Strategic Planning session last year decided to review this structure and made providing some much-needed administrative assistance to chapters an action item for 2014.
I thoroughly enjoyed serving as the Orange County Chapter Chair for a few years. Managing the administrative side of the chapter—such as keeping track of lunch registrations; billing those who did not show up; taking care of the venues; and managing the funds—was time consuming. Fortunately I have an excellent assistant who helped me with this, but we both admitted that it was difficult to manage the chapter and keep up with our duties at the City. This was a concern expressed when I talked to several members regarding taking over as chapter chair for Orange County. Many members just did not have the staff or time to manage the administration of the chapter.
I was unable to use the City as the “depositor” of the chapter’s funds, so the chapter has its own bank account…but there is the issue of the tax identification number. CSMFO’s practice is that each chapter is responsible for their own funds; usually a chapter chair is able to deposit those funds with their agency in a deposit account. Not always, however, and in these instances (like mine) the bank requires the chair’s social security number used in lieu of a tax identification number. Not everyone is comfortable about using their social security number for a bank account that is not their personal account (nor should they be).
An ad hoc task force was created at the February 18, 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Palm Springs, and we held our first meeting on Monday, March 24. The members of the ad hoc committee— Drew Corbett, Margaret Moggia, Laura Nomura, Stephen Parker, Marcus Pimentel, Ernie Reyna, Terri Willoughby and myself—developed a list of administrative functions that could be handled by our management company, to support the chapters. These functions included managing chapter meeting registrations (including online registration and payment processing), and chapter accounting (including holding all chapter funds under CSMFO’s tax identification number, which would eliminate the issue with social security numbers and ensure accountability of the funds). The ad hoc task force requested Smith Moore and Associates submit a proposal for the administrative services that were requested. The recommendation of the ad hoc task force on how to move forward will then be presented to the Board.
I am really happy that CSMFO is addressing these issues to help with the governance and administration of the chapters. Our local chapter networks are an integral part of our organization, and I hope my tenure as President sees them additionally supported. I will keep you posted on what the ad hoc task force brings to the Board.
Executive Director’s Message
By: Melissa Dixon, CAE
The CSMFO Annual Conference is now just a memory for most of you, but we’re still hard at work with wrap-up activities—paying the final bills, getting the final accounting solidified, ensuring you all get your CPE certificates and combing through the post-conference survey responses. I read some comments that stuck with me, and I’d like to use my report this month to respond to some of them.
- Thank you to everyone who commented on the meal functions. We are very much aware that the food and banquet service was not up to CSMFO standards, and have discussed this at length with the hotel. A couple folks commented that the committee or staff should have done a site visit to test these issues before booking with the hotel, so I wanted to ensure to all of you that we did. We did initial site visits with an entire committee (staff and volunteers), which included a meal at the hotel. Then, last September, the leadership held its annual planning session at this hotel. This event included a taste-testing at the hotel for nearly 25 people. The food we were served at the taste-testing was wonderful—and not at all the same as the food we were served at the conference. The hotel informed us after the fact that they had lost their executive chef, and had not yet refilled the position prior to our conference.
- There were a few negative comments about the fact that we keep going back to the same locations. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you a bit about what goes into picking the venue for this event. The first thing is space. CSMFO is unique in that we need not one but two pretty massive event halls (between 11,000 and 20,000 square feet each). Most hotels can only accommodate one such space, and we’re left with only so many options (most of which now includes utilizing a hotel AND a convention center, as our conference continues to grow in attendance). Of the ones that can accommodate us, a number of them (such as San Diego) have hotel room rates well over $200. We tend to return to certain venues not because we’re not always looking for other options (believe me, we are!), but because they have adequate space and appropriate room rates.
That’s about all I have space for this month, but if any of you have any questions about the conference (or made a survey comment you’d like addressed personally), please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you, and am always open to discussing CSMFO’s processes, procedures and reasonings.
Past President Spotlight: Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn, 1993 CSMFO President, joined the ranks of City Finance Directors in Duarte in 1961 just three years after CSMFO’s founding. Hahn had worked his way through USC in the Los Angeles CAO’s office, attending most of his classes at night after prior service in the Finance Corps of the US Army. No parental support loans or even then GI Bill.
Kurt took a 10-year break in municipal service in 1963, joining NASA’s Apollo Man to the Moon program as a senior financial manager. During this period he was drafted to work part-time in the development of then Governor Ronald Reagan’s Welfare and Medical as well as Local Government Reform Initiatives and elected to Duarte’s City Council.
Hahn returned to local government in 1974 and retired in 1998. Kurt had a contract to teach City Management at UC Davis and was offered several Interim Finance Director positions but rejected all in favor of an effort to retain Healdsburg’s Hospital, with which he served for 15 years on its board including the time it was financed and purchased from the prior owner, a healthcare district created and tax-supported by the voters.
Kurt, while retired a second time from the hospital board, now works part-time as the Interim Executive Director of the Northern California Healthcare Authority, a joint powers agency supporting the collaborative efforts among district hospitals in Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties. Hahn served two terms on the Board of the California Hospital Association and is a current member of the Board of the California State Rural Healthcare Association.
He suggests CSMFO retirees find a post-retirement interest in the community and stay busy.
What Does ERISA Mean to Public Agency Retirement Plans?
By Edward Wagner – Managing Director, SageView Advisory Group
How do we use today’s current regulatory environment to enhance the retirement plan benefit we offer our public sector employees? With all the bad press surrounding private sector retirement plans lately (401(k) plans), it might seem counter-intuitive to say, “mimic those plans”. However, taking the best parts of 401(k) plans and implementing them into our public sector plans, may be one of the best things we can do for our employees.
Private sector retirement plans are governed by a set of laws called ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Although public agency plans are exempt from ERISA, most experts agree it is in the plan sponsor’s best interest to integrate the same ERISA guidelines that exist in private plans into their public agency plan governance process. Additionally, many ERISA requirements have been incorporated into California statutory law that governs public sector plans. The ultimate result is that public agency plan sponsors are becoming more and more exposed to the fiduciary liability that has traditionally only existed in the private sector space. The bad news: Current legislative trends indicate these guidelines will become more restrictive and more cumbersome for public plan sponsors to follow. The good news: First, the private plan space has been dealing with these guidelines for years, so “blueprints” for building a successful public agency plan already exist. We can learn from their mistakes and borrow their best practices. Second, when following ERISA guidelines and instituting fiduciary best practices, the ultimate winner is the participant. These guidelines exist to ensure that participants have best in class investment options, reasonable costs, and that the plan is administered according to the plan document and in the participants’ best interests.
An example of a public agency plan that utilizes many of the successful components of the private sector space is the Self-Directed Tax Advantaged Retirement System of CA (or STARS). The plan was formed and is governed by California public agencies and is open for use by any public agency that wishes to enhance their retirement benefit program. There are many aspects of this plan that make it the perfect example of how we can apply lessons learned in the private sector plans in order to provide a powerful and effective retirement savings benefit.
More information can be obtained by contacting by Edward Wagner, Managing Director at SageView Advisory Group (949-955-7629) or at www.starsca.org.
SAVE THE DATE!
CSMFO 2015 Annual Conference
February 17-20, 2015
Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey Bay, CA
CSMFO is excited to visit beautiful Monterey Bay for our 2015 Annual Conference! The Monterey Conference Center and the Portola Plaza Hotel are both located in downtown Monterey. Step outside the conference facilities and visit the historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf, with many dining and shopping options alongside the beautiful bay view. You can also experience Monterey Bay with kayaking, fishing, whale watching and much more. Explore the coast with a short 17 mile drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach, checking out the 24 world-class golf courses along the way. There are breathtaking views all around!
Special room rates for the Portola Hotel are $179 single/double (plus tax). Each Portola Room comes with a hair dryer, in-room safe, work desk, coffee maker, iron and ironing board, refrigerator and luxuriously soft feather top beds.
Wireless internet in your guest room is $5.00 per 24 hour period (reduced from $9.95). When you purchase the wireless internet, it is not only good in your sleeping room, but all areas of the hotel as well, including the Portola Plaza meeting space.
Parking for valet and self parking at the Portola Plaza is $15 per 24 hour period for overnight guests and drive-in attendees for the day (discounted from the current $17 for self; $20 for valet).
The following link can be used to make your reservation online.
Or you can call hotel reservations at 1-888-222-5851 to make reservations with an agent.
Please make sure to mention the CSMFO conference to receive the special rate. Reservations cut-off date is January 19, 2015.
Come enjoy the fresh air in Monterey!
CSMFO MiniNews Chapter Chair Spotlight
Name: Stephen Parker
Agency: City of Stanton
Committee Chair of: Orange County
Q: How long have you been in the municipal finance profession? Why did you choose this profession? How long have you been a CSMFO member? Before I graduated from Biola University last century (1999), I was offered a job auditing municipalities and special districts with Mayer Hoffman McCann (then Conrad & Associates). I originally planned on working for a missions’ organization overseas, but I ended up staying for over a decade as I loved being able to help my clients through the audit process and help implement best practices. I thoroughly enjoyed working at MHM, but when I had an opportunity to enter the profession as a Finance Director at Yorba Linda Water District in 2010, I thought it would be rewarding to be more directly involved in the success of an agency. I enjoy the governmental finance field because people are so willing to help each other out – no one wants to see another government fail. Nowhere is that more evident than in CSMFO. While at MHM, I had been involved with CSMFO a bit, but I signed up for CSMFO membership as soon as I was hired at YLWD.
Q: Describe your first chapter meeting experience. My first chapter meeting was at the Orange County chapter while at MHM. I remember everyone being so friendly and welcoming to others. I don’t recall the specific speaker, but I remember feeling that the speaker provided valuable information.
Q: What prompted you to come back and get involved? How did you become Chapter Chair? I was interested in being involved as soon as I became a CSMFO member, but I wasn’t sure how to get plugged in. Then-President-Elect Laura Nomura encouraged me to help out on the Professional Standards and Recognition Committee, and it was fun being the Vice Chair over CAFR for two years. I have a lot of respect for our primarily volunteer-run organization, so I’ve tried to maintain as much involvement as possible. That led to being on the Career Development Committee last year, and Vice Chair of the Administration Committee currently. I was approached last summer about taking over as Orange County Chapter Chair, which would allow Pamela Arends-King an opportunity to focus on her duties as CSMFO President. While initially apprehensive, I figured there was no better way to grow than stepping into that role, and I haven’t regretted it since.
Q: What are your goals for your Chapter for the coming year, and how do they relate to the organization’s overall goals? One of my goals is to plan ahead, which makes it easier for members to know what to expect. I’m planning on having our chapter meetings on the 3rd Thursday of every even month. I’m excited about already having the speakers and dates for the rest of this year identified, which relieves a lot of pressure of the position. I am pleased to have been able to reduce the price of meetings, charge the same amount for all attendees and offer CPE at the meetings. In addition, my goal is to have speakers that will share valuable information to our members. Two of CSMFO’s areas of focus are continuing education and professional development, and I hope to help accomplish both of those through our chapter meetings.
Q: What advice would you give to people new to the profession and/or CSMFO? To those new in the profession, I would first recommend being a member of CSMFO. I think it is a very valuable resource, and the cost is small for its worth. Then, I would recommend getting further involved. The chapter level is a great place to do so initially, but volunteering to serve on a committee does not have to take up a lot of time, but will allow you to network and understand how CSMFO works in a much better way. As I said before, one of the best things about our profession is that we support each other. Getting connected with others will help you be more successful, and I think CSMFO is the best way to connect with others in the profession.
CSMFO Webinar Recordings Now Available in Video and on iTunes
We’ve upgraded the technology so that you can now watch full-screen videos on any mp4 device. These videos integrate the presentation materials with the audio recordings. You may also listen to the mp3 audio recordings by download or podcast (search for “CSMFO” in Podcasts at the iTunes store). These benefits come as a result of continuing support from Coaching Program sponsor Granicus, which graciously provides the technology for the “Agendas & Archives” tab of www.csmfo.org/training/webinars. Thank you, Granicus!
Upcoming CSMFO Webinars
2:00-3:30 p.m., Wed., April 23
1. What are the critical issues that CalPERS looks at in an audit?
2. What are effective ways to address them?
3. How can you learn from the experience of others?
Presenter: Margaret Junker, Chief, Auditing Services, CalPERS
Commentator: Scott Catlett, Asst. Finance Director, Riverside
“Latest Accounting Updates–What You Need to Know”
10:00-11:30 a.m., Wed., May 15
1. What do you need to know about latest accounting changes for your agency’s reporting?
2. How can you address these before your year-end close?
3. What are useful resources to learn more?
Presenter: Eric Berman, CPA, CGMA, author “2014 Governmental GAAP Guide”
Commentator: Brett Miller, CPA, CPFO, Interim Director of Administrative Services, Hollister, CA
Welcome New CSMFO Members!
- Carlos Moya, Accountant, Dublin, East Bay Chapter
- Dan Plute, President, Material and Contract Services, LLC, East Bay Chapter
- Graciela Lopez, Finance Manager, Heber Publicf Utility District, Imperial County Chapter
- Laquita Cole, Fiscal Manager, Mojave Desert AQMD, Inland Empire Chapter
- Tracy Cole, Finance Director, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay Chapter
- Elizabeth Cabell, Finance Director, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay Chapter
- Michael Vivrette, Finance Director, Town of Fairfax, North Coast Chapter
- Victor Damiani, Government Accountant II, Fort Bragg, Northwest Counties Chapter
- Frank Davies, Chief Deputy, Orange County Auditor-Controller, Orange County Chapter
- Nancy Thome, Sr. Management Analyst, Sunnyvale, Peninsula Chapter
- Lawrence Chiu, Director of Finance, Daly City, Peninsula Chapter
- Michael Smith, Fiscal Resources Manager, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Peninsula Chapter
- Joe Stimac, CEO, Thales Consulting Inc., Sacramento Valley Chapter
- Clay Schoen, Director of Finance, El Cajon, San Diego County Chapter
- David Noce, Accounting Manager, San Marcos, San Diego County Chapter
- Roque Chiriboga, Financial Analysis/Debt Admin. Manager, San Marcos, San Diego County Chapter
- Blanca Gomez, Financial Analyst, Santa Clarita, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Brittany Houston, Financial Analyst, Santa Clarita, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Gil Victorio, Interim Finance Director, Foothill Transit, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Darin Taylor, Senior Project Manager, Santa Clara Valley Water District, South Bay Chapter
- Lynnetta Castle, Staff Accountant, San Joaquin Council of Governments, South San Joaquin Valley Chapter
Orange County & CMTA Division 9 Meeting – April 10
– Speakers: Paula Cone & Andy Nickerson with HdL Companies
East Bay Chapter Meeting – April 17
– Contact: Richard Loomis, Finance Director – Pinole
– Speakers: Sara Brown & Betsey Kiehn with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company
Introduction to Governmental Accounting, Morgan Hill, CA
– April 23, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Ahmed Badawi – Badawi & Associates
Intermediate Governmental Accounting, San Ramon, CA
– May 9, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Susan Mayer
Intermediate Governmental Accounting, Newport Beach, CA
– June 4, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Susan Mayer
Introduction to Governmental Accounting, Ukiah, CA
– June 11, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Ahmed Badawi – Badawi & Associates
Introduction to Governmental Accounting, Menlo Park, CA
– June 25, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Ahmed Badawi – Badawi & Associates
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.