All local finance committee members are invited to the Association of Town Finance Committees’s Annual Meeting on Nov. 5 at the Sharon Community Center.
Needham Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick will open the meeting with a presentation on resiliency, sharing insights on her own resiliency journey spanning 25 years in local government. Her crowd-sourced poem, “We Long for a City Where We Go Hard on the Issues and Easy on the People,” has become nationally recognized.
The meeting will feature four educational workshops, running concurrently during two time slots.
The first session will feature “Finance Committee and Budgeting 101” with Northborough Town Administrator John Coderre covering the basics for new members, and a session on climate change and sustainability initiatives.
The second session will feature “The Great Resignation and How It Affects Your OPEB Liability,” led by Arlington Town Manager Sandy Pooler and Jim Powers, CPA, of Powers and Sullivan; and a workshop taking a closer look at the assessing function and the ways it affects municipal finance, led by Westborough Chief Assessor Jonathan Steinberg.
Following lunch, Doug Howgate, who will become the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation early next year, will lead a general session on the overall economic outlook and its impact on municipal budgets. The session will be interactive, with opportunities for questions. Howgate has served as executive vice president at the Taxpayers Foundation since 2020.
The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. The cost is $55 for dues-paying ATFC finance committee members and $65 for nonmember finance committee members and all other local officials.
All local officials may attend. Online registration and a detailed agenda will be available in early September.
The MMA is currently requiring attendees to show proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID (card, photo or QR code). Exemptions are allowed with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours. Masks are optional. These safety protocols are subject to change based on the latest public health data and guidance.
Registration, Breakfast and Networking
President’s Welcome and Business Meeting
John Trickey, Chair, Pelham Finance Committee
Kate Fitzpatrick, Town Manager, Needham
In March 2022, Fitzpatrick published her crowdsourced poem “We Long for a City Hard on the Issues and Easy on the People” to her blog. She had begun working on this poem the previous year and over 25 colleagues submitted content before Fitzpatrick put the finishing touches on it and received recognition from her colleagues locally and nationally. It’s what she would describe as a passion project. She will share how projects and work like this, and the important work that you do as leaders in your community, build resiliency and keep you motivated to continue volunteering your time and making your work valuable!
Concurrent Workshops I
John Coderre, Town Administrator, Northborough
Moderator: Ira Miller, ATFC Past President
This session will review national best practices in public budgeting as promoted by the Government Finance Officers Association through its Distinguished Budget Award program. This session, designed for new finance committee members, provides a roadmap for building consensus by showing how best to organize and present your community’s financial information.
Climate Change: Your Finance Committee’s Role
Julie Wormser, Senior Policy Advisor, Mystic River Watershed Association
Paul Wetzel, Chair, Williamsburg Finance Committee
Moderator: Jonathan Harris, ATFC Director
This session will discuss the impact of severe weather events on your town and what you can do to prepare and become sustainable. Learn more about how municipalities will be affected by climate change and what state resources are available through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
11:15 a.m.-12:30 pm.
Concurrent Workshops II
Everything You Wanted to Know About Assessing But Were Afraid to Ask
Jonathan Steinberg, Principal Assessor, Westborough
Moderator: Jeremy Marsette, ATFC Director
The role of the assessor and his or her relationship to the finance committee is an important one. This session will address this and cover the following topics: process of valuation, assessing improvements (solar, etc), new growth and construction, the schedule for setting the tax rate and billing cycle, overlay reserve, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Bring your assessing questions!
The Great Resignation: How it Affects Your OPEB Liability
Jim Powers, Principal, Powers & Sullivan
Sandy Pooler, Town Manager, Arlington
Moderator: Melinda Tarsi, ATFC First Vice President
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 2022 has seen one of the highest quit rates in history, and the municipal sector has not been immune. Given the turnover in municipal positions, as well as the difficulty hiring in particular fields (such as municipal finance), finance committees will need to be prepared for increased focus on OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) liabilities when considering long-range financial planning. This session will review what OPEB is, how it factors into municipal financial planning, and how the recent Great Resignation may create new conversations around how we prioritize our OPEB budget line.
The Economic Outlook
Doug Howgate, Executive Vice President, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation
The meeting will conclude with an overview of the current fiscal climate and the top issues including inflation and job growth. MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Jackie Lavender Bird will moderator this interactive session.