• Willdan Financial Services
  • Bartle Wells
  • Harris.
  • CSMFO with Sponsor

Download the pdf version *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: Pamela Arends-King, City of Tustin


September is an important month for CSMFO. It is the month the strategic planning session is held. The President, Past President, President-Elect, Board members, committee officers and chapter chairs meet to discuss and or develop a three-year strategic plan for CSMFO. Last year a new three-year strategic plan was developed with goals, actions and work plans for the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and the individual committees. CSMFO leadership spent many hours finalizing the three-year plan and the committees are already addressing the action plan.

This year’s strategic planning session will be held in Monterey because that is where the 2015 Annual Conference will be held next February. The President-Elect is responsible for the direction of the strategic planning session and for planning a team-building exercise for the leadership group. Since CSMFO has a three-year strategic plan in place, the strategic planning session will be an update of what we have accomplished to meet the goals of the three-year strategic plan in addition to a focus on CSMFO’s internal policies, organizational structure, committee structures and branding. The strategic planning session is also a time when the CSMFO leadership gets a chance to spend time getting to know one another. This helps the group work more effectively together. I will give an update on the results of the September strategic planning session in the October President’s message.


Executive Director’s Message

By: Melissa Dixon, CAE

By October 1, the CSMFO President has to have appointed a Nominating Committee to develop the slate for the upcoming Board elections. Each year we elect one new Board member from the south and one from the north, as well as the incoming President-Elect (this year from the south). Interested in running for CSMFO office? Email me and let me know!

Not ready for the Board, but still want to get involved? Try volunteering on a committee. There are seven standing committees that operate year-round, with responsibilities anywhere from choosing upcoming conference venues to scheduling webinars. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can contact the chair of the committee or email me.

Lastly, we are always looking for new budget reviewers. We have just over 50 reviewers currently, but love to see that number doubled between now and the conference. Contact Committee Chair Mike Gomez or me for details.

I look forward to welcoming some new volunteers!


CSMFO-2015-Conference-smallMonterey: Then and Now

2015 CSMFO Annual Conference

“The Changing Tides of California Finance”

By: Tim Seufert, NBS

Then: The Monterey area was originally inhabited by an Ohlone tribe of Native Americans. They enjoyed the biologically rich area, and lived by hunting, fishing and food gathering. In 1602, the Spanish explorers would land in the Monterey Bay and also note the richness of the area, setting off hundreds of years of colonial expansion. In the 1700s, Monterey was a busy area, as part of Alta California. Monterey became the capital of the “Province of Both Californias” (Baja and Alta California) in 1777.

In the early 1800s, Monterey was originally the only port of entry for all taxable goods in California. All shipments into California by sea were required to go through the Customhouse, the oldest governmental building in the state and California’s Historic Landmark Number One. Built in three phases, the Spanish began construction of the Customhouse in 1814, the Mexican government completed the center section in 1827, and the United States government finished the lower end in 1846!

A few years later, the State of California was founded in Monterey, as the constitutional convention was convened there in 1849. Many of the signatories to the state’s original 1849 constitution were themselves prominent in their own right, including several Californios (early Californians of European, African and Native American mix). It’s notable that this constitution was both in English and Spanish, and was approved by a unanimous vote, a rare sight in today’s politics. It was later supplanted by the 1879 constitution.

The actual City of Monterey was incorporated in 1889. The City became a favorite of numerous artists, writers, fishermen and entrepreneurs. More recently, Monterey has been recognized for its significant involvement in post-secondary learning of languages other than English and its major role in delivering translation and interpretation services around the world. In November 1995, California Governor Pete Wilson proclaimed Monterey as “The Language Capital of the World.”

Now: The City welcomes CSMFO for its Annual Conference from February 18-20, 2015 at the Monterey Conference Center in downtown Monterey, California. Lodging will be at the Portola Plaza Hotel. The Annual Conference Host and Program Committees continue their work to develop interesting learning sessions and fun events to create the perfect combination of technical learning, professional development and networking. The express intent of the Conference is to enhance knowledge and training of the membership.

The Thursday night event will be a fun-filled evening with entertainment, great food and networking, of course. Don’t forget to consider extracurricular activities in the area, before and after the conference. There is golfing at 24 local courses (including a few famous ones, with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am the week preceding the conference), wine tasting (the Monterey area is home to over 175 wineries – see montereywines.org), kayaking in Moss Landing/Elkhorn Slough, fishing in Monterey Bay, historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf and beautiful views between all the attractions. And for those of you who like organized activities, for a small additional fee we will be offering some excursions on Tuesday afternoon prior to the conference.

If you have not yet done so, mark your calendars, make your hotel reservations (the hotel can be reached at (888) 222-5851 and the email address is reservations@portolahotel.com), and get ready for an extra-special annual conference in Monterey.

The Old Customhouse, Monterey, CA California's Historic Landmark Number One

The Old Customhouse, Monterey, CA
California’s Historic Landmark Number One

City Finances and the Promise of Data Visualization

By: Stephen Goldsmith – stephen_goldsmith@harvard.edu (This post originally appeared on Stephen Goldsmith’s Better Faster Cheaper blog on Governing.com.)

New tools that make it easy to find and view government financial data are enabling big gains in efficiency and transparency.

For local governments, financial reporting is about more than simply ensuring that the numbers add up. Public officials also have to be able to communicate the data in a way that is both understandable and meaningful to target audiences, whether it’s city officials making decisions about resource allocation or voters making decisions about whether to trust their governments.

That’s the challenge for municipalities: How can local governments provide a comprehensive, yet accessible medium for distributing budgetary and other financial data? And from a practical standpoint, how can city leaders make this happen with limited resources and staff capacity?

Increasingly, the solution is data visualization. By linking enterprise performance systems to tools that provide instant access to current and historic financial records, more and more governments are allowing almost anyone to view and manipulate public data via vivid pie charts and line graphs. Users can even export raw numbers or high-impact graphics for use in meetings and communications materials.

In Boston, for example, the city’s performance management system, Boston About Results, uses data analytics and visualized scorecards from the software company SAP to evaluate agency operations and improve the delivery of services. Other municipalities have opted to partner with industry experts such as the Sunlight Foundation, OpenSpending and OpenGov to bridge the gap between city finances and public awareness.

In the San Francisco Bay area, Sausalito and Atherton are among the latest to join a network of more than 100 cities that have adopted OpenGov’s platform. Sausalito is integrating data visualization into every aspect of city administration, including its recent labor negotiations. In the past, compiling labor costs from various agencies was an immensely arduous task that required sifting through hundreds of Excel worksheets to document the town’s history of employee salaries and benefits. Charlie Francis, Sausalito’s administrative services director and treasurer, reports that he can now review and visualize annual labor costs in a matter of minutes.

Francis thinks budget visualization has the power to reshape the landscape of local governance while improving efficiency and public understanding. On the efficiency side, he says the town has seen remarkable savings in staff hours and monetary costs since adopting its transparency platform just a few months ago. And several Sausalito city council members have taken to pulling up budget data on their tablets in the middle of presentations with residents, civic leaders and other stakeholders.

“When it comes to responding to a citizen requests about government spending, there is nothing more powerful than being able to access the entire city’s financial records with just a few clicks,” says Francis. “What is even more exciting is the fact that this is the same information that residents can access from the comfort of their home, and that citizens feel empowered to go back to the software and find answers to their other questions about government spending.”

Atherton City Manager George Rodericks agrees: It all comes down to transparency. “The traditional process of financial reporting leaves the overwhelming majority of residents out of the loop,” he says. “We needed a new medium that would not only be user-friendly but also equip regular citizens with the tools needed to ask the right questions about how city officials are spending their tax dollars.”

With a three-member finance department, Atherton is always seeking opportunities to streamline its financial management process, and Rodericks says this platform is enabling him and other city staffers to do just that. Rather than having to personally respond to every request for financial information, for example, city officials now list frequently asked questions on Atherton’s city website and link them to corresponding charts.

“This technology has transformed the way that residents interact with local government,” says Rodericks. “On one hand, the open government platform is saving us hundreds of work hours by reducing the time that staff spends sorting through files of accounting data. On the other hand, as more citizens are using this technology we are starting to see many new inquiries come in from people interested in learning more about how local government operates.”

This, of course, is a great problem to have. By providing residents with the tools to visualize and work with government data to meet their individual needs, financial data visualization is not only increasing government transparency and accountability but also enhancing the ability of local governments to be more responsive to citizens’ needs.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

By: Justin Lewis, Chief Information Officer, Smith Moore & Associates

I’ve been on a kick for the past couple years trying to be more productive. I found that I had a hundred things outstanding with dozens more coming in and while outwardly I was doing fine, internally I was floundering. I needed a solution and my personality dictates to find this solution, I need to do research. I consumed a lot of material in a fairly short period of time and then tried everything I learned all at once and then kept what stuck around. One of those items is a tool called Trello.

Before we get into what and how Trello works, I need to explain what a kanban is. Kanban is a word in Japanese that literally means signboard or billboard. Developed at Toyota, kanban is a method to control a workflow. For me, it’s a system of tracking a lot of moving parts and making sure they get done (and I look like a super-star).

So how does it work? Pretend you have 5 baskets on your desk. The one on the left is In and the one on the right is Completed. Anytime a new task comes in, you throw it in the In basket. When you’re done with that task, put it in the Completed. Pretty simple! The three baskets in the middle is how you deal with these tasks when life decides to be life. Let’s call those baskets Next, In Progress, and Waiting. When you come in first thing in the morning and open your email, anything that requires work on your part gets put on a piece of paper and thrown into the In basket. Now, sort through the In and find all the fires you need to put out now. These get moved into Next, sorted by importance. Then, take the first item in your list and move it into In Progress. Decide what needs to happen. Do you delegate it, or do you do it yourself? If you delegate it, write that person’s name on the card and put it in your Waiting basket. If you’re doing the work, maybe you need some questions answered first. If so, write down who you sent the question to and put it in your Waiting basket. If you finish it, put it in your Completed basket.

Tasks are going to come in while you’re working. Any task that doesn’t need to happen RIGHT NOW gets put into In. If it needs to happen RIGHT NOW, then move it to In Progress and get working!

Repeat this process through the day, and tomorrow when you come in, scan each of your baskets and see what needs to be followed up on and what should be shifted in your workflow.

This may feel like a lot of wasted time shuffling paper. However, if you adhere to the process you’re not going to drop any tasks. You will also have a very good idea of how much work you have so you’ll know when to bring in help or when to say no. To me, though, paper and baskets are too cumbersome to work with when the vast majority of my work is already in the computer. Surely there’s a piece of technology that can handle this for us. That technology I’ve already mentioned: Trello. Here’s a screenshot:


Trello calls each task a “card” and cards have numerous features. You can assign due dates, add comments or attachments, create checklists, color code, copy them or sign up for email reminders that notify you if there is any activity on the card. You can also assign a card to anyone else who has a Trello account. This lets you delegate items to other people, but still keep a handle on what’s happening with that item. If everyone on your team decides on the same baskets to use and how to use them, then you can very quickly go through a large set of tasks or tackle a complicated project with a lot of moving parts.


The Professional Standards & Recognition Committee has recently started using Trello to track the incredible amount of data that comes about when processing the CSMFO Budget Awards. Last year 10 volunteer committee members worked with 75 volunteer reviewers to process 129 awards. The vast bulk of this process was managed via email and can be very time intensive for the volunteers involved. This year we’re using a Trello board with 8 “baskets” to track this process. We have yet to see the first award in the Completed basket, but early testing has been very successful!

I hope this article has given you some ideas about how you can rearrange your workflow to keep better track of your projects and ultimately be more productive. There are other ways to handle this, and lots of ways to modify what I have shown you today. The final answer is to find out what works best for you. If you want to try Trello* (it’s free!) create an account with them and you can be up and going in minutes. If you have any questions, I’m happy to help and I can be reached at justin.lewis@staff.csmfo.org or at the CSMFO office, 877-282-9183.


Notes and Extras:

* There’s a lot of other kanban related software. I have only used Trello. Kanban Tool and Kanbanize seem nice.

The process I explain here is my own mixture of kanban and David Allen’s Getting Things Done. You can learn more about kanban and Getting Things Done on Wikipedia.



2014 CSMFO Annual Weekend Training Seminar

Date: Friday, November 21 – Sunday, November 23, 2014

Place: Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown
282 Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95113
Phone: (408) 998-0400

Registration Fee: $425 Full Rate / $350 Commuter Rate

Registration Deadline: Friday, October 31, 2014 (Registration has not yet opened for this yet. )

Attendance will be limited to 40 people and full registration includes two nights lodging, meals and seminar materials. All fees must accompany your registration and be received by the October 31, 2014 deadline. There will be a $35 processing fee for any changes or cancellations made prior to the October 31, 2014 deadline. No refunds, changes or cancellations will be processed after that deadline.

Please Note: This is a professional educational training session limited to finance officers and their appropriate staff members. The weekend is planned to net each attendee approximately 20 hours of professional educational training and the opportunity to enhance interaction with fellow members by remaining “in community” throughout the weekend. Meals (lunch and dinner) along with morning and afternoon breaks have been planned to accommodate average needs; should you have special dietary or personal needs, please indicate on the registration form following.

Receipt of your completed registration form and fee prior to the October 31, 2014 deadline will assure your place at the seminar. Room Reservations will be made on your behalf. Confirmations will be made by e-mail no later than November 1, 2014. Upon check-in at the hotel, each participant will be required to show ID and present a credit card for incidentals. Overnight parking is available for a nominal fee. Questions regarding the seminar should be directed to Mark Uribe (805) 388-5358.

The Career Development Committee is excited about presenting this “Annual” training opportunity and anticipates a fulfilling, rewarding experience for all. We look forward to seeing you in San Jose!!

Event Webpage


Coaching Corner

Want to help shape the future of local government financial reporting?

“Use Webinars for Team Development”

Are your training budgets tight? Looking for ways to rally your team and learn together?

The CSMFO webinars provide great professional development opportunities for teams. That’s what John Adams, Finance Director in Thousand Oaks, is doing with his team.

[see photo] Thirteen of his department members participated in the July 30 webinar “Maximizing Your Leadership Skills.” With Q&A, polling questions, and post-webinar discussion questions, the webinars provide a lively way to learn. You can bring your team together for the live webinar sessions or tap the full screen mp4 digital recordings to view and discuss the webinars at your convenience. See the “Agendas & Archives” tab of www.csmfo.org/training/webinars for upcoming and archived sessions.

Help everyone in your local government finance group be a leader. Learn together.


Upcoming CSMFO Webinars

“Transparency, Open Data, and Innovation for Financial Information” 2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 10, 2014

webinar cosponsored with MISAC

Webinar Topics:

  1. What are the latest trends in transparency as well as the open data movement for financial information?
  2. How are agencies making financial data easily visualized and understood?
  3. What resources can you tap to help your organization respond to the public?


  • Lea Deesing, Chief Innovation Officer, Riverside, CA
  • David Ramberg, Asst. Dir. of Administrative Services, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome New CSMFO Members!

  • Heidi Schrader, Senior Management Analyst, Temecula
  • Amy Aguer, Controller, Coachella Valley Water District
  • Patricia Maitland, Finance Director, Pacific Grove
  • Alfonso Tan, Portfolio Manager, Wells Fargo Bank – Government Banking
  • Anil Gandhy, Director of Finance and Technology, Downey
  • Sylvia Molina, Accountant III, Beaumont-Cherry Valley Water District
  • Tierry Domond, Accountant III, San Bernardino
  • Melvin Shannon, Director of Finance, La Habra
  • Tonetta Jones, Finance Director, Kerman
  • Bryce Wilson, Sr. Analyst, Encinitas
  • Christopher Becnel, Director of Finance, Clearlake
  • Patricia Kaufman, Audit Partner, McGilloway, Ray, Brown & Kaufman


Chapter Meetings

Channel Counties Chapter Meeting – September 11
Trends in Government, Innovation and Transparency
-Speaker: Lea Deesing, Chief Innovation Officer & Executive Director of Smartriverside, Innovation & Technology Dept., City of Riverside

Central Coast Chapter Meeting – September 11
To Bell and Back – What happened in the City of Bell and what can we all learn from it?
-Speaker: Bill Statler, Director of Finance & Information Services, City of San Luis Obispo, Retired

San Gabriel Valley Chapter Meeting – September 17
Renegotiating City Debt to Revitalize Operations and Improve Essential Services
-Speaker: Marianna Marysheva-Martinez, Managing Director, Public Sector Solutions, FTI Consulting

Inland Empire & CMTA Div 8 Chapter Meeting September 18
Disaster Finance and Cost Recovery
-Speaker: Michael Martinet, Martinet Group, LLC.

Education Opportunities

Power of Fiscal Policies (Morning), Menlo Park, CA

– September 18, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  • Bill Statler – Director of Finance & Information Technology, City of San Luis Obispo

Power of Fiscal Policies/Long Term Financial Planning, Menlo Park, CA

– September 18, 8:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Bill Statler – Director of Finance & Information Technology, City of San Luis Obispo

Long Term Financial Planning (Afternoon), Menlo Park, CA

– September 18, 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Bill Statler – Director of Finance & Information Technology, City of San Luis Obispo

Introduction to Government Accounting, Menlo Park, CA

– September 24, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Ahmed Badawi, Partner with Badawi & Associates

Introduction to Government Accounting, City of Shafter, CA

– October 6, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Ahmed Badawi, Partner with Badawi & Associates


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.