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President’s Message

By: Jesse Takahashi

Jesse THappy New Year Everyone!

I hope all of you enjoyed the holidays. As we look ahead into 2016, our organization is well positioned to continue its mission of promoting excellence in our profession by providing even more training and development to our members and enhancing the CSMFO image. We have listened to your feedback and will continue to do so over the ensuing year. We are planning to expand on existing sessions and develop new courses to help improve upon our core competencies and expand our knowledge base. With a healthy amount of financial resources at our disposal, CSMFO leadership will be looking for additional ways to bring benefit and value to you and your staff. We will also be looking at ways to strengthen our organization. Stay tuned for some exciting changes ahead in the upcoming months as the new year holds promise of more great things to come.

In case you didn’t realize, there are just two months left before the Annual Conference is here. If you haven’t done so yet, please register for the conference, March 1-4, as we are trying to reach a goal of 1,000 attendees for the first time ever! What better way than to network with fellow colleagues and take advantage of an excellent program of technical and non-technical presentations lined up at the “happiest place on earth”—Disneyland. The Program Committee is in the process of finalizing a wonderful 2 ½ days of content-rich training that is sure to enhance your professional development. And, to top it off, we will be “in the park” on Thursday night with a CSMFO-only event that can be enjoyed by you and your guests. Don’t be left out, book now and reserve a room—additional rooms have recently been opened at overflow hotels. I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim.


Executive Director’s Message

By: Melissa Dixon, CAE

Only two months to the CSMFO Annual Conference!  Are you excited??

We’ve had a few frequently asked questions regarding the conference, and I figured I’d take this opportunity to share the answers with everyone.

Extra Tickets for the Thursday Night After Party

You want to bring a guest to the After Party, but you don’t want your agency to get billed for it. Here’s what you do:

  • Register for the Conference and choose as options only those things you want your agency to pay for.
  • Pay for that total with a credit card online.
  • Email me at melissa.dixon@staff.csmfo.org and ask me to edit your registration to add on your guest items.
  • Pay for that total with a personal check or call the office at 877.282.9183 to pay with a credit card.


  • Register for the Conference and choose all your options at once.
  • Pay with two checks: one from your agency and one personal.


I emailed about this, but some people still have questions. If you received the $265 rate at the Disneyland Hotel, there’s nothing CSMFO can do to make that rate lower. We have a waiting list already of people that are hoping to get the $179 rate, but that’s only available if someone cancels at the Disneyland Hotel through CSMFO staff. If someone cancels through us, we can reassign the room to someone on our waiting list. If someone cancels through the Disneyland Hotel directly, they take the room and put it back in their general operations and whoever is lucky enough to snag the room (either a CSMFO member or a member of the public) does so at the prevailing rate (which we understand to be $265).

I wish this were different, but there it is. We have information on the website regarding overflow hotels if you’re still looking for a place to stay.

Next month we’ll provide some detailed information regarding the Thursday night event. If you have any questions before then, please feel free to email me!

Why Unemployment Insurance Exists

By J Randall Stevenson

After the stock market crash in October 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression of the 1930’s, the national unemployment rate exceeded 25%. Simultaneously, throughout the world, industrialized nations began creating systems of insurance to support and compensate workers for wages lost during periods of unemployment. Nearly all of these nationalized systems became compulsory as each government enforced the coverage using laws, regulations and taxing powers to fund the growing financial liability.

The primary purpose of unemployment insurance is to deliver economic assistance and compensation to employees for wages lost during periods of economic decline and/or periods of involuntary unemployment. A secondary purpose, and one most relevant during the years that followed the Great Depression, is to keep the trained labor force in one location from dispersing to other locations where jobs are more plentiful.

The structure of unemployment compensation in the United States is a federal (FUTA, aka Federal Unemployment Tax Administration) and state (SUI, or state unemployment insurance, aka SUTA, State Unemployment Tax Administration) partnership that obligated states to comply with laws that occurred as a result of the Social Security Act of 1935. While the Act imposed a FUTA tax on all employers, a credit against federal taxes was provided if they paid state taxes to states with unemployment laws that met FUTA requirements and had solvent Unemployment Trust Funds. For example, employers in Massachusetts, Oregon and Tennessee were charged a 2014 FUTA tax rate of 0.6%, since their state unemployment agencies all have solvent Unemployment Trust Funds and meet FUTA requirements. Employers in Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio had 2014 FUTA rate of 1.8%, since their Unemployment Trust Funds are insolvent and are therefore not eligible for a credit.

The Act gave states the autonomy to determine their preferred mechanisms of their own SUI programs. Consequently, the 50 state SUI programs and taxing procedures are all quite different and have contrasting impacts on employers. In the USA, as a matter of perspective, in 2014, the estimated 50 state average employer tax contribution as a percentage of gross wages ranges from a low of 0.36% (South Dakota) to a high of 1.71% (Washington), with a national average of 0.82%. Consequently, an employer with a $2,000,000 payroll would have a tax cost of as low as $7,200 in South Dakota and as high as $34,200 in Washington.

J Randall Stevenson, began his career as an employer advocate in the unemployment field in 1970. His SUI experience, knowledge and expertise in state and national SUI matters is varied and distinguished.

Source: First Nonprofit Group’s “Financial Mechanics of Funding SUTA” series

Next article: “Unemployment Insurance Is Not Really Insurance“

The Digital Transformation in Economic Development:  First Steps toward Modern

By Nancy Schafer

Marketing has undergone a radical transformation in the last five years with the maturation of a digital, mobile, and social populace.  How businesses and governments connect with their customers and the nature of the customer relationship has become more intimate and direct.  For an economic development agency, understanding what this trend mean for you is the first step to understanding how digital technology will improve the experience of your citizens, drive business growth, and help drive economic growth in your locality.

The Trend0

All you need to do is look at people anywhere (phone in hand, head down) to understand that we are experiencing a fundamental shift in how we communicate and interact with the world.  This change relates to both direct communication and how people are connected to companies, nonprofits, and the government.  Expectations are higher, intimacy is high, and the consumer is empowered to share opinions.  Companies now create and track detailed information about how best to serve their consumers to understand both at the individual and at the aggregate level.  The result is personalized offers, relevant ads and a very competitive marketing environment.

Implications for Economic Development Agencies

Economic development is a mix of government to consumer (G2C) and government to business (G2B) marketing, both of which have radically changed through this revolution.  Both are far more quantitative than ever before.  As an example, do you know how many content assets a particular prospect has downloaded from your current web site?  Do you know who’s considering your locality for a business relocation?  Have you presented your best brand presence to an individual starting a company?

In a competitive environment, your government has to help explain the unique differentiators that make it an excellent business environment.  It must do so using the channels that have consumer mind-share.  This process begins with four steps:

1.      Develop a Digital Network

When new businesses and individuals are introduced to your locality, these entities tend to remain anonymous.  Pre-digital, this was the norm.  However, the digital age presents an opportunity to gain insights from each interaction.  An active presence on multiple social properties is essential to building a network and can be a powerful tool to get economic development content in the hands of your prospects.   When someone visits your website or social media properties, it is also fairly simple to capture email, cell phone numbers, and social media accounts for future communication and the very act of asking for information helps you qualify whether a party is truly interested or just window shopping.  Once basic data is collected, you can supplement it with 1st party in-house data, intra-locality data, and even 3rd party commercial data to build a more complete picture of your prospects and their behaviors.

Understand and Grow Your Network

Understanding your prospects is critical to success in digital marketing, or as marketing guru Dan Zarrella puts it “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” Analysis of prospects allows you to easily segment them and tailor the messages you will deliver.  Once a locality has brought an individual or business into the electronic fold, there is a real opportunity to strengthen these relationships for the mutual benefit of you and your stakeholders.  Setting up a digital community is a great place to start.  In these communities, your community members can exchange business development information with one another, and you can get the word out about all the things great things your locality has to offer.



Deliver Timely, Relevant Communication

The next wave of benefits of digital benefits comes from the ability to develop targeted outreach and sales campaigns to your digital network.  For example, if you want to improve tourism –generate an ad placement campaign to all of the tourists that visited your website last year.  If you want to improve sales activity – generate a social campaign to come enjoy free parking from 9am-9pm on Sunday.   If you want to improve commercial activity – generate an email campaign to commercial businesses in the area.  Once your digital network has been established, the possibilities to these types of digital G2B and G2C campaigns become endless.   The illustration below provides an example of targeted marketing campaign to attract a local business to your city.


Foster Brand Presence and Advocacy

A positive experience with your locality can help draw in prospects, while a negative review can drive them away.   Awareness of this reality is a very important dynamic of the mobile, social age.  One factor most correlated with local economic development is the efficiency of the city’s business operations.  Integrating guided personalized self service capabilities into your existing website environment extends welcome, helps attract individuals and businesses, and reduces costs associated with complying government regulations.   A polished, professional website featuring guided interactive assistance pays forward in terms economic benefits and the business reputation of your city.

About Us

Schafer Consulting is an industry thought leader on advising local governments on technology solutions.   In partnership with Oracle, we offer a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications and platform services designed specifically for local economic development agencies.  We welcome the opportunity to share information about our digital engagement solutions.  To learn more, please contact Nancy Schafer, nschafer@schaferconsult.com, or Matthew Newman, Matthew.Newman@oracle.com.


A Finance Life For Me!


From the Crow’s Nest it is almost ‘land ahoy!’  So I ben’ telling ye about the finance life for me . . . .  well maties, it is time for our annual top ten list as our ship approaches the coast line of Disneyland.   It is up to you to be takn’ advantage of these great opportunities come March 2016 along with over 350 of your already registered shipmates.  Don’t be left walking the plank because you didn’t register.

As busy finance professionals, ye have limited time. We shortened the Top 10 down to a manageable 6, just for that reason! (Shorter but better than last year’s list of seven!) If you are still on the fence, this Top 6 list from our Treasure Chest will get you to attend:


  1. Engaging keynote speakers including, Jon Gordon whose enthusiasm and great advice will inspire us to focus on positive energy and The Passing Zone team of Jon Wee and Owen Morse who encourage groups to be better teams.
  2. Preconference sessions on Tuesday featuring ERP from A to Z (aka Everyone’s Recurring Problem) Enterprise Resource Planning with subject matter experts Terry Hackelman and Phil Bertolini or the Fundamentals of Municipal Revenues: Taxes presented by Michael Coleman and Lloyd de Llamas. (Pre-registration and fee required)
  3. There are two Early Bird sessions on Wednesday morning including an Economic Update from Beacon Economics’ Founding Partner, Dr. Christopher Thornberg and Pension Funding: Risky Business! with CalPERS own Alan Milligan and CFO Cheryl Easton. (Included in your registration fee!)
  4. Many engaging breakout sessions, including Memory Power from author Paul Mellor; Cadillac Desert or Ford Pinto Desert: The Update on Water Finances in California with Greg Clumpner (NBS), Martin Querin (Vallejo) and Craig Hill (NHA); two Leadership sessions from our always outstanding speaker Neil Kupchin; Effective Project Management: Planning Your Work and Working Your Plan with Bill Statler and many, many more.  In total, there will be dozens of sessions following six tracks which include Finance 101, Treasury and Debt Management, Budget & Financial Planning, Accounting and Reporting, Leadership and Management Skills and IT and Innovation.
  5. We Are Going to Disneyland – Adventure Land that is! CSMFO will be providing “Twilight Passes” that can be used late afternoon until the Park officially closes on Thursday.  Then we will have our own CSMFO ‘After Party’ in Adventure Land.  Our exclusive Adventure Land rides will include Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and Enchanted Tiki Room, along with Disney Characters, DJ, dancing into the night, desserts, drinks, and most important great company to share the Adventure Land activities with.
  6. Last but not least, there is much to do before, during and after the conference including: GFOA’s CPFO exam, annual golf tournament, 5th annual tennis mixer, yoga and walking events (no walking the plank – maties!) and more. Of course, there will also be great networking throughout the Conference.

Check out the CSMFO Conference Website http://conference.csmfo.org/ for more detailed information which will be updated as we move towards the March conference.


Many opportunities abound this year in the Vendor Exhibit Hall which opens Wednesday at 10 am.  There will also be a vendor reception, case-in-point sessions (NEW this year), desserts, breakfast, and several other events scheduled in the Vendor Hall throughout the conference.  Thanks to our Diamond Jubilee sponsor MGO – Type Atypical and our Diamond sponsors Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan which help make this conference possible and affordable to public agencies.


The 2016 CSMFO Annual Conference will run from March 1-4, 2016 at the Happiest Place on Earth – Disneyland Hotel.  Please log on to http://conference.csmfo.org/register/ and register for the 2016 CSMFO conference.  Government/Member early bird rate is $370 until January 19, 2016.  Registration rates increase to $420 after January 19 and online registration closes on February 15, 2016.  Arrr, matey, don’t delay, register today.    Yo-ho-ho a finance life for me.

Welcome New CSMFO Members!

  • Karen Scalabrini, City of Ukiah, Finance Director, North Coast Chapter
  • Robert Hamud, Client Services Manager, San Diego County Chapter
  • Heidi Lang, Central Marin Sanitation Agency, Finance Analyst, Peninsula Chapter
  • Valerie Tedrow, Sacramento, Administrative Analyst, Sacramento Valley Chapter
  • Marilen Santos, Coronado, Accountant, San Diego County Chapter
  • James Krueger, Coronado, Director of Administrative Services, San Diego County Chapter
  • Wayne Loo, City of San Mateo, Accounting Manager, Peninsula Chapter
  • Emilia Archer, City of San Mateo, Accountant II, Peninsula Chapter
  • Grace Castaneda, City of San Mateo, Finance Specialist II, Peninsula Chapter
  • Lisa Wesley, City of San Mateo, Budget Analyst, Peninsula Chapter
  • Eve Adviento, Lake Forest, Accountant, Orange County Chapter
  • Richard Santiago, Hillsborough, Assistant Finance Director, Peninsula Chapter
  • Richard Clark, Harris & Associates, Sr. Project Manager Public Finance, Out of State
  • Dorrett Lambey, Central Basin Municipal Water District, Accounting Manager, Central Los Angeles Chapter
  • Sharoon Kumar, Central Basin Municipal Water District, Contracts & Procurement Analyst, Central Los Angeles Chapter
  • Peggy Williams, Central Basin Municipal Water District, Accountant, Central Los Angeles Chapter
  • Hilary Chumpitazi, Municipal Water District of Orange County, Finance Manager, Orange County Chapter
  • Yvonne Johnson, Castaic Lake Water Agency, Senior Accounting Technician, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
  • Lucy Medina, Castaic Lake Water Agency, Accounting Technician II, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
  • Gayle Okada, City of Union City, Supervising Accountant, East Bay Chapter
  • Steve Wong, South Feather Water & Power Agency, Finance Division Manager, Sacramento Valley Chapter
  • Maria Isabela Mendoza, Santa Ana, Accountant II, Orange County Chapter
  • Benny Ives, Santa Clarita, Interim Management Analyst, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
  • Lisett Bautista, Santa Clarita, Financial Analyst, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
  • Brandon Ladd, Roseville, Budget Analyst II, Sacramento Valley Chapter
  • Maria Lagman, Palo Alto, Senior Accountant, Peninsula Chapter
  • Corrine Nikolic, Elsinore Valley, Municipal Water District, Accountant III, Inland Empire Chapter
  • Elena Estelle, Elsinore, Valley Municipal Water District, Accountant III, Inland Empire Chapter
  • Art Landeros, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Accountant III, Inland Empire Chapter
  • Troy Arajs Tyler, Technologies, Regional Territory Manager, Peninsula Chapter
  • Natalee Dee, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Accountant III, Inland Empire Chapter
  • Alexandra Karapetian, Yorba Linda, Accountant, Orange County Chapter
  • Thanh Nguyen, Hayward, Senior Accountant, East Bay Chapter
  • Denise Robles, Hayward, Accountant, East Bay Chapter
  • Tony Sandhu, Regional Government Services Authority, Finance Consultant, East Bay Chapter
  • Marichu Maramba, Hayward, Accounting Manager, East Bay Chapter
  • Tammie Holladay, Lancaster, Treasury Manager, Desert Mountain Chapter
  • Nancy Rothlisberger, Roseville, Budget Analyst, Sacramento Valley Chapter
  • Jacquelyn Flickinger, City of Roseville, Accounting Supervisor, Sacramento Valley Chapter
  • Christopher McCarry Chandler, Asset Management, Vice President, Investment Consultant, San Diego County Chapter

Chapter Meetings

North Coast Chapter Meeting
– 12 January 11:00pm – 1:30pm
Speakers: Douglas C. Robinson, Presedent and Founder, RCM Robinson Capital Management, LLC     
                   Ben Stone, Executive Director of Sonoma County Economic Development Board

San Gabriel Valley Chapter Meeting
– 13 January 11:30am – 1:30pm
Speaker: Mark Huebsch, Stradling Tocca Carlson & Rauth
Michael Bush, Urban Futures

Channel Counties Chapter Meeting
– 14 January 11:45am – 1:15pm
Speaker: Jeff Burgh, Auditor Controller, County of Ventura  

Inland Empire & CMTA Div Chapter Meeting
– 21 January 11:30am – 1:30pm
Speaker: John Husing, Ph.D

GFOA Training Event

Dear Public Finance Professional:

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) invites you to participate in a series of training seminars at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove, California, January 11-15, 2016. Join us for one or more of the following courses: Best Practices in Treasurey Management (January 11-12); Managing the Budget Process: School District Budgeting (January 12-13); Strategic Planning (January 12); Funding for Pension and Other Postemployment Benefits (January 13-14); Managine the Budget Process (January 13-14); and Advanced Governmental Accounting (January 14-15). The GFOA training program provides the best educational opportunities available in the field of government finance.

Save 10 percent on the registration fee when you sign up and pay in full by December 11, 2015.

We look forward to seeing you in Orange County, California! For more information on what to do while in Orange County, go to www.visittheoc.com

Thank you,
Government Finance Officers Association

Hotel Accommodations
A block of rooms has been reserved for the GFOA attendees at the Hyatt Regency Orange County. Based on availability, the GFOA’s group rate is valid until December 22, 2015.

Download the event flyer or visit the GFOA website for more details and to register for this event.


CSMFO is preparing for a new medium to get the latest CSMFO news to our members. For more information you can email david.garrison@staff.csmfo.org.

The innovation of CSMFO, the personality of its directors and chairs mixed with the passion and knowledge of our members channeled into a new and interactive format!