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Senate | June 22, 2016 | Chamber | Senate Education

Full MP3 Audio File

BLANK_AUDIO] Welcome to the Senate Education Committee. I'd like to go ahead and get a starter today first by thanking our sergeant at arms Terry Barnhart, John Inlaw and Francis Patterson, thank you so much for helping us withe the committee today. We also wanna recognize Our pages, Lexi Ray of Night-Dell sponsored by Senator Ford. Ms. Wiggins, Ms. Wigging what's your first name? Janay Wiggins from Night-Dell also sponsored by Senator Ford. Taylor Buchanan of Asheville sponsored by Senator Vandan Shawn Thomas of [UNKNOWN] sponsored by Senator Meridiff, Austin Davis of Raleigh sponsored by Senator Burger, Lillian Datson of [INAUDIBLE] sponsored by Brian Jackson, Audrey Migs of Fair View sponsored by Senator Vandon and Elizabeth Wood Sponsored by Senator Wales, welcome to the Senate Education Committee today and thank you for helping us really have one item on the agenda, there is no PCS and so I'd like to invite Representative McNeil to present his bill before before us. [BLANK_AUDIO] >> Thank you Mr. chairman, committee members, I come before you today to ask for your approval for house bill 1035 which provides for training for local government finance officers, the local government Commission provides assistance to local governments to help them maintain a healthy financial condition, the LGC also helps with the settling of debt and over side of annual financial audience for local governments. Each local government must appoint a finance officer, house bill 1035 allows LGC If a deficiency is found and a letter of deficiency has been issued or if they are insisting that default in unit and refinancing the payment of debt to require that the finance officer attend training as to the powers, duties and responsibilities of a finance officer, it also allows the LGC to work with the school of government and the North Carolina community college to develop the training, also establishes the fear to cover just the cost or for expenses, Mr. chairman. >> Are there any questions or comments from the committee senator [INAUDIBLE]. >> Mr. chairman thank you, I just wanna thank representative McNeil and his co-sponsors for bring this bill it's an excellent bill and I probably appreciate the effort, in the appropriate time Mr. chair I move for a favorable report. >> All right, we'll hold that motion and recognize Senator Davis. >> Thanks Mr. chair I too think it's a good bill and this is trying to conceptualize if we are moving forward here to bring forth a bill that we would require the training, could you explain or express in terms of the nature of number of deficiencies that may be taking place within our local governments? >> Representative McNeil? >> Thank you. The local government commission has a watch list. I think if you would like to know who was on the watch list you could probably talk to them, I think they would be glad to tell you that. I don't know off the top of my head how many is on the watch list, but I think it's over Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50. >> Okay, follow up. >> Follow up. I do appreciate that again. What I'm trying to also understand is again as we are mandating the training, if it's 50 or whoever is currently on the watch list, is this a reflection of an increase of overtime, is it stable and we just fill at this point we need to bring this forward. Just trying to understand again what might be the trigger to instigate the mandatory training. >> Representative McNeil. >> Thank you senator Davis for the question. In talking with the local government commission and representatives for the treasures office, been working on this for a couple of months. Of those entities that we're talking about, the counties, towns and this also covers a lot of your water boards and sewer boards also The biggest problem they found in towns and counties are getting in financial trouble is lack of training with the finance officers. And it according to what I have told them and I don't have any statics but they have told me that is on the rise. And I do have

>> Follow up. >> I do wanna first make sure my understanding which local governments I'm just reading the bill tittle and just trying to make sure we are talking to counties and municipalities in terms of those financial. Officers or would it go beyond those jurisdictions. >> Representative McNeil. >> Yes. Municipalities, counties, cities and water authorities. >> And Mr. Chair this is a common, if I may. >> Make a comment. >> Okay, thank you. I really do even Even though, you know, just asking those questions appreciate the bill. One thing that I think that it would have to convey,I recall an Intram/g, we were having a presentation with the local government commission and we were looking thoroughly at those on the watch list and if I recall correctly. The term they were probably about 13 or so counties on the watch list. And interestingly and in a desperately way a lot of it was coming from East and North Carolina which led to a greater questions what may be taking place regionally. So I'm just. This season/g I think there is, you know, this is really a great bill and I appreciate to bringing it forward as we still try to understand what is taking place out there as well as and this is one final point that I would emphasize, as well as how the. Finance officers are performing in lieu of federal mandates over the years that have come down. >> Senator O'Brien. >> [INAUDIBLE] I wanted to make a friendly suggestion and [INAUDIBLE] >> Representative McNeil do you have any comments on that thought? >> Senator, thank you for your comments. I do agree with you, that was something we did consider when we were talking about this, whether we should make it mandatory just right off the box for any finance officer and We felt like at this point in time that it would be sufficient if there was a deficiency found in one of these municipalities or county's then at that point we would come in and require the training. Sometimes the deficiencies are not necessarily due to the training, some times they're trained And sometimes they just need a refresher but I appreciate your comments. Certainly I'm agreeable if something comes in the future that this doesn't solve the problem, I would be glad to look at mick and mandatory for all. >> Follow up >> One follow up qietion. If like I wanted to. Take advantage of the training is it available for a person who is not [INAUDIBLE] Would it offered or open that is that town to one take advantage. >> Senator McNeil. >> Thank you. Senator the community college is all ready. Well into develop in this curriculum and I don't wanna speak for the community colleges but I beleive that they would probably offer to anybody that wanted to take it. I think I don't think they are gonna develop the curriculum and then just seat back and wait for the LG seeder to force people to take it. I think it would probably be available to anyone. Senator Cutis. >> How much is it going to cost community college to develop this material and do the testing or raining. As I understand it, they are again two I don't know definitively because this is just in the works. I beleive. I believe I've heard the figure of around $180 but I think it would be less than 200. >> Representative McNeil. >> You are talking about the cost of it. I believe their is $25000 in the budget to develop this curriculum. Representative McNeil let me recognize. Smart Bond to just book in that statement. >> Mike Founder of fiscal research. Representative McNeil is correct in the house budget their is $25000 included for the development of the curriculum for this training. This Item wasn't included in the senate budget And you all find out very shortly what has happened. >> [LAUGH] >> But my understanding is the treasures office would like this authorizing lead legislation regardless of what happens with that appropriation although they like appropriation to. Do they're not on the same track they're on separate tracks that are parallel you could say.

Are there any other questions or comments from the committee? Does anyone from the public, the treasurer's office community does anybody wanna add their two cents? [BLANK_AUDIO] Just state your name Name and who you are with. >> Mr. Chairman I'm with the committee Tony Selary/g with the treasurer's office I'm gonna say thank you very much for your consideration of the bill and the support. Senator Davis you had a question before about what kinds of deficiencies just to kind of add a little to that. So the local units of government are audited and the auditor might find That there's a lack of separation of function or they might find that budget entries are not made in a correct way or the accounting is done in an insufficient manner, there could be other kinds of deficiencies that as was mentioned might not have anything to do with the finance officer so one of the reasons it wasn't made mandatory is as Representative McNeil said is When it does involve the finance officer and again I wanna be clear, these are folks who are often not paid very much, they're doing the best job they can, there's no malfeasance or anything they just don't have quite the skills they need to get those budget, those entries made right or understand the kinds of principals of financing Representative McNeil also said and [INAUDIBLE] is coming down with a whole slew of new requirements and book keeping that are very complex and so that's one of the challenges these folks face to is familiarization with the new local government auditing requirements and so the idea was Idea was went by their deficiencies in that way we can get these folks trained and get them up to speed so they can do the job well, but thank you very much for your consideration of the bill. How often does the local government commission require audits of local governments. >> It's on a rotating basis I believe, I don't think it's every year for all units, probably every every three years, don't quote me on that I just don't know the answer really, but it's on a regular basis. >> Senator Davis. >> Thanks Mr. chairman I direct the question to our representative Tony. >> You may. >> Okay, one of that just inquired growing as somewhat a follow up on senator Brian's question and and that. [BLANK_AUDIO]. Sorry about that. [BLANK_AUDIO]. The question is what type of training is already currently made available especially when there may be changes that are coming down and so forth, whether all the finance officers would be able to actually come and actually give them some meaningful information that necessarily wouldn't be mandatory as a result of the deficiency. >> If I understand your question correctly I think it's just a couple of Fassets to that answer, I mean there are folks who go to college and university and they specialize in local government financing and training, they have a counting and financing backgrounds, those folks they get a competitive salary but they tend to be bigger units, so they would have adequate financing training training, I suppose, I'm thinking through it, if there are professional credentials that are required for that you will have to periodically go back and get training for that. If you hold a professional certification of some sort but again a case that a lot of local units is they can't afford those that kind of level of training that can't be competitive so they hire folks who may have some level or training or little, if part of the question is would there be some or should there be some sort of periodic kind of refresher for folks like this I think it's probably a great idea, that's not a part of this bill though. >> And this follow up Follow up >> Okay. And I'm looking again especially in these rural areas where it may be even more challenging to get someone with the capacity, I mean they may be reaching out with someone that just so happen they had on staff and they're trying to train and grow in this capacity. I guess my question would be Could there necessarily be a need for some training and this is something that obviously has come up now and if there's some sort of need, maybe if we could work on some language that would allow the department if we could just take a look and study and Maybe come back with some sort of recommendation on it. >> Thank you senator. I mean we're trying to be very creative in this area, it's our responsibility and our role to help local units of government to succeed. One of the option, I was talking with senator Brian about earlier, if one of the challenges is for local units that they just can't afford The salaries to be competitive maybe one of the things that we do is we have a number of local units of government come together and to hire a finance office who would serve all of them,

4 or 5 units, and then they could pay a more competitive salary and get the job done by folks who are well trained to do so, that might be an option. But we're working hard To rethink what needs to happen at the local level to help units be successful. >> For any of those wondering which institution offers the best program in town city county management that would be Appalachian State, which I'm a graduate of. What's in that program? Let's see, okay. I'm looking for a motion. Okay I got one. The motion from senator Woodard is for a favorable report with a recommendation that the bill would be re-referred to Senate Finance. All those in favor please signify by saying By saying aye. >> Aye. >> All those opposed say no. Seems to me that the ayes have it and the bill is passed and this meeting is adjourned. >> Thank you. [SOUND]