By: Jesse Takahashi
Happy New (Fiscal) year!
For many of us, July rings in the new fiscal year for our organizations. New budgets, new hope and optimism for a fiscally rewarding year are on our minds. This is also the time of year when we begin closing out the “old” year and start preparing for audit. If you’re lucky, you might be able to squeeze in some vacation time with the family before the kids head back to school. It is a great time to enjoy some of the great outdoor experiences that California offers, from our world famous National Parks that showcase the natural beauty of our State to the warm and sandy beaches along our coastline to the adventurous and exciting theme parks that create lasting memories for our kids and families. Wherever your plans take you, may it be a safe and fun time.
At its June Board meeting, the Board discussed and took action on a number of items. Among them was finalizing the 2018 Annual Conference location in Riverside and moving ahead with approval to contract with the Riverside Convention Center and the Mission Inn, Marriott and Hyatt Place hotels. The Conference Site Selection Committee conducted a thorough review and analysis of five possible locations (San Diego, Long Beach, Ontario, Palm Springs and Riverside) and performed site visits, ultimately concluding the site best suited for our group was the Riverside Convention Center. It recently underwent a major renovation and has the amenities that will make this venue an outstanding choice for our conference and our growing membership. The facilities are first rate, the hotels are in close proximity to the Convention Center and there are plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance. I want to thank our Site Selection Committee, chaired by Laura Nomura, for their time and participation in finding another top-notch location for our Annual Conference.
Other items discussed at the Board meeting were guidelines for sponsorships of Chapter meetings; direction was provided to the Administration Committee so that it could move forward with finalizing a policy. The existing Operating Reserve policy was also discussed and a draft policy reviewed to address minimum and maximum reserve levels and what to do with surplus funds. This will be coming back to the Board for final approval in the near future.
The Board also discussed the organization’s strategic plan and goals for 2015. Each committee provided a progress report on its assigned goals for the year. Some of the highlights included creation of a new volunteer interest form for those wishing to become more involved in the organization, improving membership retention through the development of an exit survey meant to capture reasons why some members do not renew. Another goal is to develop individual committee handbooks that will document needed procedures and information making it easier to transition new members to the committee.
A number of other goals were discussed and reviewed that are still in process and will be reported on at future Board meetings. A link to the 2014-2016 goals and action plan can be found at: https://www.csmfo.org/about/strategic-goals/.
Executive Director’s Message
By: Melissa Dixon, CAE
As July tends to signify a bit of a lull for CSMFO, I’m going to take this month’s Executive Director’s message to tell you a bit about Smith Moore & Associates (SMA). (For those of you who don’t know, CSMFO contracts with SMA for management and administrative services. SMA is my employer.)
SMA just celebrated its 9th birthday. Now that we’re no longer a “new” company, we’re starting to spend time talking about organizational culture. Rather than let the culture develop as it will, we’re proactively attempting to build a company that values having fun, being positive and fostering respectful relationships with colleagues. We’ve started employing a weekly tool called 15-Five (http://www.15five.com/); so named because it should take the employee 15 minutes to fill out and the supervisor five minutes to review. We ask employees questions about their workloads (e.g., ‘What are your top three priorities for next week?’ or ‘What is the biggest challenge you’re facing right now? How can we help?’), but we also pepper it with questions that point toward the kind of culture we’re attempting to foster. For example, ‘Name something you’re grateful for’ or ‘How have you been a good team member this week?’ By asking these questions of employees, we’re both forcing them to think of positive things and reinforcing that this is the kind of culture we want our company to have.
If you don’t utilize this kind of tool within your own workplace, I invite you to check it out. If you’re not in a position to pay for a new service, perhaps just consider these types of questions internally. You’d be surprised how much it can help you focus.
For my part, I’m grateful for my very supportive family and for a job that allows me to showcase the best parts of myself. What are you grateful for?
Did you notice the CSMFO staff wearing CSMFO sweaters and polo shirts at the Annual Conference? CSMFO is now offering those items, plus fleece jackets, available for purchase through Land’s End.
The California Society of Municipal Financers Officers (CSMFO) is a community of individuals who dedicate their lives to civil service and promote excellence in financial management through innovation, continuing education and professional development. Those who volunteer to support the CSMFO mission—on a committee, at the chapter level or as a member of the Board—will tell you the value they receive from their active involvement with CSMFO is immeasurable.
For those individuals who are ready to take on a greater role and begin contributing to the strength of the government finance profession, we invite you to volunteer for one of the many opportunities available, and CSMFO will make every effort to fulfill your request. We also understand you may have questions about these volunteer opportunities before you commit, and we encourage you to reach out to CSMFO’s Executive Director, Melissa Dixon, who would be happy to answer your question or direct you to the appropriate CSMFO leader.
Public Engagement Grant Program
Is your city looking to better involve your residents on a tough budget issue in the next 12 months? The Davenport Institute for Public Engagement (based at Pepperdine University) has just opened applications for its seventh annual Public Engagement Grant Program. The largest grant program of its kind in California, the Institute has awarded cities, counties and special districts in California over $400,000 in support of a public process around a particular local policy issue. Grantees have included several public budgeting projects.
This year, the Davenport Institute will be awarding a total of $50,000 in funded service arrangements throughout California with individual grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. For more information about the program, and a look at previous grant recipients, and apply online, please check the Institute’s Grant website
And feel free to contact the Davenport Institute’s Associate Director, Ashley Trim: Ashley.Trim@pepperdine.edu
We look forward to hearing from you!
Where’s the Fire? Proposed Fire Assessment Rejected
By Tim Seufert
Managing Director, NBS
On April 27, 2015, property owners casting their ballots narrowly rejected a proposed fire suppression benefit assessment in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), though only 25% of ballots mailed out were returned. The proposed assessment would have allowed the embattled ECCFPD to keep 5 fire stations open and provide an improved level of fire service. Without this assessment revenue, ECCFPD will have only three stations to cover an area of 249 square miles with a population of well over 100,000 people: The City of Brentwood alone, with over 50,000 people, will have one fire station. A service area of that size should have three times as many stations and fire fighters, per national standards and as compared with similar jurisdictions in California.
The ECCFPD is a “post Proposition 13” District, so it receives a small share of property taxes, relative to districts created before Proposition 13 (Proposition 13 was approved in 1978). The proposed assessment would have allowed ECCFPD to provide at least a reasonable level of fire service. Without that funding, the service level will simply not be sufficient: Board Directors Bryant and Smith summed up their comments after the ballot tabulation as, “God help us all.”
NBS developed an in-depth analysis of the Fire District’s finances and service levels, along with a detailed GIS review of fire hydrant and station locations to create a fire assessment methodology that was hailed by the Fire Chief, Board Directors, Staff and legal counsel as a “new model” and a “prototype” for the future. Unfortunately, those who chose to submit their ballots rejected the assessment, which resulted in immediate plans for station closures and fire fighter layoffs.
This is an ominous situation for this particular community and a thought-provoking wake up call for many other communities across California. Do we trust local government to provide certain services, or not?
Committee Member Spotlight
City of Sacramento
Vice Chair Sacramento Valley Chapter
Q: How long have you been in the municipal finance profession? Why did you choose this profession?
I have worked directly in municipal finance for the last four years. It is the best fit for using my training and experience in the service of others in the community.
Q: How long have you been a CSMFO member? Served on a CSMFO committee?
I have been a member of CSMFO for two plus years and this is my first year on a committee.
Q: What committee are you a part of now? Why did you become involved with CSMFO’s committee(s)?
I am a member of the technology committee. I wanted to be a more active member in CSMFO and give back to the organization.
Q: How did you come to be involved in the leadership of CSMFO?
I submitted a proposal for a project specific to the technology committee and volunteered to get more involved.
Q: What are your goals for the committee for the coming year, and how do they relate to the overall organization’s goals?
Some of the goals were set prior to my arrival on the committee, so I am currently working on developing a proposal for improvement to the listserv that would enhance the benefits for members of our great knowledgebase.
Q: True or False: Money cannot buy happiness. Elaborate.
True and False. Money will provide you the means to purchase items that will create momentary feelings that resemble happiness, but true happiness can only be found within – you don’t need “stuff” to make yourself happy. However, if you don’t have enough money for the basics in life (food, shelter), then money would at least remove the hurdles to happiness, like not having to worry where your next meal will come from.
Q: What is your favorite CSMFO Conference memory?
Each year, during the Conference, I am reminded of the willingness of CSMFO members to share their experience with others. It is a testament to the strength of the CSMFO membership and organization that so many members choose to give back and is what has made me want to get more involved.
Welcome New CSMFO Members!
- Clyde Alexander, Senior Accountant, Paramount, Central Los Angeles Chapter
- David Alvey, Vice-President, Maze & Associates, East Bay Chapter
- Rob Braulik, City Manager, Martinez, East Bay Chapter
- Aaron Espinosa, Accountant, Rancho Mirage, Coachella Valley Chapter
- Joe Paul Gonzalez, County Auditor-Controller, San Benito County, Monterey Bay Chapter
- John Johns, Adjunct Professor, University of California Berkeley Extension, Peninsula Chapter
- Rafaela King, Owner, RTKing Financial Services, East Bay Chapter
- Michael Lin, Business Relationship Consultant, Schafer Consulting, Orange County Chapter
- Kera Miller-Dolan, Staff Accountant, Vavrinek Trine Day & Co., LLP, Sacramento Valley Chapter
- Thomas Morgan, Senior Accountant, San Jose, Peninsula Chapter
- Tina Olson, Director of Finance, Pleasanton, East Bay Chapter
- Rochelle Osorio, Senior Accounting Technician, Castaic Lake Water Agency, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Nathaniel Paredes, Senior Accountant, East Valley Water District, Inland Empire Chapter
- Vivian Penaredondo, Accountant, Pacifica, Peninsula Chapter
- Chad Rinde, County of Yolo, Sacramento Valley Chapter
Introduction to Governmental Accounting, City of Thousand Oaks
– July 8, 9:00am – 4:30pm
– Instructed by Ahmed Badawi
Power of Fiscal Policies/ Long Term Financial Planning, City of Tustin
– July 21, 8:30am – 4:30pm
–Presented by Bill Statler
Intermediate Governmental Accounting, Menlo Park
– July 24, 8:00am – 5:00pm
–Instructed by Susan Mayer
“Pragmatic Approaches to Long-Term Planning”
Advance registration required for this no-charge webinar:
While it can seem daunting, implementing long-term planning into your organization is not as difficult as it seems and significant benefits can be gained in policymaking, labor relations, and communications with your elected officials and the public.
* How can long-term planning improve decision-making?
* What are best practices and lessons learned that will help you consider long-term planning?
* What resources are available to implement long-term planning effectively?
* Tim Kirby, Assistant Director of Finance, Sunnyvale
* Jovan Grogan, Deputy City Manager, Concord
Audience: all local government finance professionals
Get connected with these steps.
1. Register in advance for the webinar:
There is no charge for participating in the webinars, but each requires advance registration. Be sure to “white list” email@example.com to receive notices for this webinar.
*** Advance registration required for this no-charge webinar:
2. Connect with the webinar and audio:
Use your logon information from the email confirmation you receive via email from GoToWebinar. We recommend the telephone option dial-in number provided by GoToWebinar for sound quality. Depending upon your internet connection, VOIP option for audio (computer speakers) can have delays or sound quality issues.
3. Ask questions:
You may submit questions anonymously via email to CSMFO@DonMaruska.com in advance or via the webinar during the panel discussion. As moderator for the session, Don Maruska will pose the questions.
4. Presenters’ presentation materials: We post these with the agenda at “Agendas & Archives” tab of www.csmfo.org/training/webinars. The PPT will be available at least 2 hours before the webinar.
After a webinar occurs, a digital recording along with the PowerPoint materials and results of the polling questions will be available after 24 hours at the “Agendas & Archives” tab of www.csmfo.org/training/webinars.
CPE Credits: If you are a member of CSMFO and wish to obtain CPE credit, you need to register and attend in your name, respond to at least 75% of the live polling questions, and pay $25 to CSMFO after notice from CSMFO following the webinar. After payment, CSMFO emails the CPE certificate as a PDF.
Post-Webinar Group Discussions
Many agencies are organizing groups to participate in the webinars (live or recorded) and discuss the topics among themselves after the webinars. Some are summarizing their discussions and distributing them to managers throughout their organizations. Use the CSMFO Coaching Program as an effective way to enhance professional development in your agency. Here are some discussion starters for this session:
a. Where would long-term financial planning help our agency?
b. What approaches appear most desirable for us?
c. Which resources would we like to tap?
MORE RESOURCES–See the “Coaching Corner” at www.csmfo.org/coaching for valuable resources to boost your career. These include a Financial Management Skills Inventory, Resource Matrix, Coaches Gallery of 24 volunteer CSMFO Coaches willing to help you on a one-to-one basis, and an archive of digital recordings and materials from past webinars at www.csmfo.org/training/webinars.
Enjoy the resources to help you succeed in local government finance.
Don Maruska, MBA, JD, Master Certified Coach
Director, CSMFO Coaching Program; CSMFO@donmaruska.com
Author “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.