News and Updates

2015 Fall Training Institute Handouts

Follow this link for Fall Institute handouts.

MGFOA Marketing Study

Recently, MGFOA went through a Marketing Study and this is the Strategic Marketing Plan that resulted from the study.

Lawmakers to big box stores: Pay your fair share of taxes!

Bridge Magazine explains "dark store" issues in this online article.

GFOA Requests Help with RTPA Legislation

Throughout the month of August, your congressional delegation typically puts business on hold in Washington, D.C., and heads home. The “August Recess” is designed to give members of Congress and their staff some time to reorient, so it’s one of the very best times for constituents to communicate with them, either in person or in writing. Your advocacy has the most impact during this period because it allows your congressional representation to come face-to-face with the fiscal effects that federal preemption legislation has on localities within their districts. Please reach out to your member of Congress today urging them to support and co-sponsor the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) (HR 2775).

The RTPA would compel retailers to collect taxes on remote sales, based on the consumer’s location. Passing this legislation would finally bring federal law into the digital age by enabling state and local governments to collect sales taxes on online purchases that are already owed to them but not being paid. These bills would also level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers who currently face a competitive disadvantage of 5-10%, compared to remote sellers, because Congress has failed to act to update national tax laws with respect to digital sales.

Your direct outreach to your member of Congress is critical to advancing this legislation through the federal legislative process this year.  Please take a few minutes during this key time to send a letter urging your Congressional representative to support RTPA.

We encourage you to explore and use the resources available on GFOA’s RTPA Resource Page including a RTPA sample letter to Congressional Representatives, as well other material such as talking points and a sample Op-ed. Click here to find out the local address to send the letter and copy for hand-delivery to your Representative’s D.C. office.

Want to learn a little more about the Marketplace Fairness Act?  On August 12 at 1pm (Eastern), GFOA’s Mike Bailey, finance director for the City of Redmond, WA and Dustin McDonald, director of GFOA’s Federal Liaison Center, will lead a joint webinar with the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) on federal efforts to require online retails to collect and remit sales taxes to state and local governments. The webinar is FREE for GFOA and ASPA members. Register for this webinar.

Moody's upgrades Rochester Hills, MI to Aaa from Aa1

Rochester Hills(Aaa applies to $1.0M of outstanding debt)

Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the City of Rochester Hills, MI's general obligation limited tax debt rating to Aaa from Aa1, affecting $1.0 million of Moody's rated debt.

The Aaa rating incorporates the city's strong tax base and economic profile; a multi-year trend of net operating surpluses, revenue raising flexibility, solid available fund balance, and ample liquidity bolstered by strong management practices that are anticipated to contribute to the long-term maintenance of healthy financial operations. The rating further reflects the low debt burden with future plans to cash finance future projects and no pension liability. The rating also considers the statutory limits Michigan statute places on taxable value and revenue growth, restricting revenue growth as valuations increase and accelerating revenue loss during times of tax base declines.

CRC Report Examines Expanding Legislative Fiscal Impact Statements

How can we know the true cost that proposed legislation would impose on Michigan's local governments, businesses, and individuals? This is the question Citizens Research Council of Michigan asks in its new report

The Cost of Legislation: Expanding Michigan's Fiscal Notes. The report explores how Michigan's legislative fiscal agencies might go about estimating costs for proposed legislation that is aimed at those outside of state government. In Michigan, these estimates, called fiscal notes, are critical in informing state policymakers of the true spending and revenue impacts of legislation.

Nearly every state in the nation has a process for estimating the costs of proposed and enacted legislation on state government. In Michigan, the nonpartisan House and Senate fiscal agencies are responsible for assessing the changes that would occur if proposed bills are enacted. These assessments typically include quantitative impacts of bills that would affect the operations of state government, but typically do not include fiscal impact statements for bills that would affect parties outside of local government.

"Our analysis shows that of the legislation reviewed by committees, most fiscal impacts are determined to be unknown or indeterminate," says CRC Research Associate Nicole Bradshaw.  "While some other states are able to determine costs for parties outside of state government on a more frequent basis, several obstacles prevent Michigan's fiscal agencies from assigning quantitative fiscal estimates." In particular the report identifies the fiscal agencies' limited data access, the full-time nature of the Michigan legislature, the speed of Michigan's legislative process, and lack of expertise of non-state financial statements as hindrances in determining the true costs of legislation.

The report also discusses how the fiscal agencies may play a role in assessing whether legislation imposes a mandate on local governments. Under Article IX, Section 29 of the Michigan Constitution, generally referred to as the Headlee Amendment, the state cannot enforce a mandate on local governments without funding. "Accurate fiscal estimates would help state policymakers examine the cost legislation would impose on local governments and could be a step forward in ensuring that the state complies with this portion of the Headlee Amendment," said Bradshaw.

If policymakers wish to expand the scope of fiscal notes, CRC's report provides several recommendations including ways to improve access to necessary local government, business, and individual data as well as the need for the legislature to allocate additional funding to the fiscal agencies to ensure they have sufficient resources to expand their duties.

The full report is available at no cost on the Citizens Research Council's website,

MGFOA presents Certificate of Achievement to
City of Grand Blanc

Grand Blanc Award

Wendy Jean Buhrer, Grand Blanc City Finance Director (left), receives the 20th Consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from MGFOA Board Member, Tamar Lewis, Budget and Grants Administrator from the City of Flint. Congratulations Grand Blanc!

The GFOA's Awards for Excellence in Government Finance recognize innovative programs contributions to the practice of government finance that exemplify outstanding financial management. The awards stress practical, documented work that offers leadership to the profession and promotes improved public finance. The Award for Excellence consists of the following categories:

  • Accounting, auditing, and financial reporting
  • Budgeting and financial planning
  • Capital finance and debt administration
  • Economic development and capital planning
  • E-Government and technology
  • Management and service delivery
  • Pensions and benefits
  • Treasury and investment management

Photo by Paula K. Schmidt

MDOT is Holding Act 51 Training

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is again holding Act 51 training sessions around the state.  The training agenda and calendar are below.

These sessions will be in the same format as last year and are geared more toward cities and villages rather than counties. 

There will be one morning session from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and one afternoon session from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. at each location (shown on the training calendar below).

Seating in each location is limited.  Please contact Lori Cole, Financial Specialist, MDOT Financial Operations Division at 517-335-2556 or to reserve your spot.

City of Grosse Pointe Farms Receives ‘AAA’ Bond Rating

Congratulations to the City of Grosse Pointe Farms! The City has received a 'AAA' bond rating from Standard & Poor's Rating Services (S&P) for the City's series 2015 limited-tax general obligation capital improvement bonds for the $3.5 million in sewer and water main improvements.

Grosse Pointe Farms joins an elite group of municipalities with an AAA bond rating.  Bloomfield Hills and Rochester are the only other two communities in Michigan, with a population of less than 20,000, to achieve this distinction.  Grosse Pointe Farms is the only community in Wayne County rated 'AAA'.

City Manager Shane Reeside stated, “This is significant and would not have been possible without the strong leadership and fiscal management of the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council.  Credit also goes to City Controller John Lamerato who has helped position the City to reach this milestone.”

According to Robert Bendzinski, President of Bendzinski & Co. Municipal Finance Advisors, an upgrade from AA+ to AAA will likely result in an additional interest savings of 10 basis-points.  That amounts to a savings of more than $50,000 over the life of the bond.  Savings would have been even greater if not for the already excellent rating of the Farms and a continuing climate of low interest rates."

Grosse Pointe Farms Councilman and Chairman of the Budget and Audit Committee, Louis Theros said of the designation, “This is something the City Council and Administration has consciously worked towards for the past several years.  The City has maintained healthy cash reserves and has implemented policy to help insure the financial integrity of the City - now and for future generations."

MGFOA Opposition to Senate Bill 17
Profits to Former Property Owner Upon Foreclosure

Resolution Number 1
February 13, 2015

RE: OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 17 (Profits to Former Property Owner Upon Foreclosure)

WHEREAS Senate Bill 17 has been introduced to amend the General Property Tax Act, 1893 PA 206, by amending section 78m (MCL 211.78m) which would require that profits of the sale of a house by auction for non-payment of real property taxes to be refunded to the homeowner; and

WHEREAS, this legislation would create a determination of “profit” that would ignore significant costs extinguished by the foreclosure process, including mortgage and other debt, creating a potential windfall for the property owner who neglected to pay the property taxes; and

WHEREAS, this legislation would place the burden of uncollectible taxes on the local units of government and the schools, while refunding profits to the property owner, who had three years to pay the taxes or sell the property themselves; and 

WHEREAS this legislation would be detrimental to the municipal and other lien holders (water and sewer charges, mowing and blight fees, other local charges) as the creditors and mortgage holders would have their interests extinguished placing the government in a position of eradicating private and public interests in a property while providing a windfall to the former owner; and

WHEREAS this legislation would disrupt the counties’ property foreclose process because counties cannot file lawsuits for a deficiency judgments for properties that did not sell for the amount of the taxes causing taxpayers to subsidize the foreclosure system; and

WHEREAS this legislation would impair the ability of a County to bond for funds to advance to the local taxing jurisdictions to settle the current taxes by pledging that all property auctioned for non-payment of taxes will be aggregated to provide funds to the delinquent tax revolving fund and pay off the bonds; and

WHEREAS this legislation may make it difficult for a County to meet its current debt service requirements or to bond in the future.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Michigan Government Finance Officers Association (MGFOA), by this resolution, opposes Senate Bill 17, the requirement that the profits of the sale of a house by auction for non-payment of real property taxes to be refunded to the homeowner.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be distributed to the Governor’s office and the leadership of the Michigan Legislature, as appropriate.

Moved by: Catherine McClary, supported by Steve Adair,
motion approved/denied­­­­­­­­ by a vote of 8 to 0.

Policies & Procedures for Key Financial Functions

The MGFOA Accounting Standards Committee has developed policies and recommended procedures for use in your community.  The policies cover key financial functions, including: 

Budgeting Fund Balance
Capital Assets Grants Management
Cash Management       Investments
Debt Management Payroll & Expense Reimbursement
Ethics Purchasing
Financial Reporting  

While each document was created and reviewed by members of the Committee, it is important to note that these documents are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.  Finance officials seeking to use these documents should consult their respective government agency’s charter as well as their agency’s legal counsel.

Please visit the RESOURCES page of the site to view the documents.

If you would like to suggest any changes to these documents, please email the Standards Committee via Joe Heffernan.

MGFOA Committee Membership

The MGFOA Board is accepting application for members to volunteer to serve on various Committees

This is your opportunity to get involved and grow with the organization by serving and contributing your knowledge to a committee.

Click here to complete the Committee Membership Application.

Dashboard and Citizen Guide templates at Dept of Treasury

Follow this LINK.

Michigan Department of Treasury and EVIP Administration

Follow this LINK.

FREE: State of Michigan's Local Government Records Management training is now available online

Follow this link.


Join the Community Forum

Board of Directors '14 - '15

Executive Director
Bob Hertel
Ed Sell
Finance Director
City of Monroe
Board Assignment:
  • Policies, Bylaws, and Ethics
VP / Secretary
Christa McLellan
Deputy Treasurer - Financial Services
Wayne County Treasurers Office
Board Assignment:
  • Mentoring/Membership
Catherine McClary
Washtenaw County Treasurer
Washtenaw County Treasurer
Board Assignment:
  • Legislative Committee
Immediate Past President
Tom Skrobola
Director of Management Services/CFO
City of Kalamazoo
Board Assignment:
  • Nominations
  • Strategic Planning
Associate Director
Ben Stone
Vice President, Relationship Manager
Flagstar Bank
Board Assignment:
  • Spring Conference
  • Golf Outing
  • Professional Development
Associate Director
Beth Bialy
Plante & Moran, PLLC
Board Assignment:
  • Fall Conference
  • Michigan Brunch
  • Mentoring/Membership
Ed Bradford
City of Manistee
Board Assignment:
  • Spring Conference
  • Golf Outing
  • Technology
Tom Darling
Director of Financial Services
City of Troy
Board Assignment:
  • Spring Conference
  • Accounting Standards
Tamar Lewis
Accounting Coordinator
City of Flint, Finance Department
Board Assignment:
  • Fall Conference
  • Professional Development
Steve Adair
Finance Director & Treasurer
City of Center Line
Board Assignment:
  • Fall Conference
  • Legislative Committee

Executive Director
Bob Hertel