Meeting Reminder
The next Treasurers Operating Committee meeting is Thursday, April 17th from 12:00 to 2:00.

State Software Discussion
OASBO conducted a State Software Survey from January 24, 2012 through February 4, 2012.  This was a web-survey conducted by OASBO at the urging of a group of ITC Directors. The purpose of this survey was to gauge the level of satisfaction with State Software. The target audience was district Treasurers, Treasurer’s staff, and Business Managers.  The survey results, an analysis of the survey and a blog written by Dave Smith, Director of Programming Services for the State Software Development Team (SSDT) can be found by following the following link.  State Software Survey

As a result of that survey, the OASBO Board of Directors have requested the review of 3 to 4 third party accounting systems with the possibility of selecting one to support as an alternative to State Software.  The following (SSDT) link is to a discussion of this topic from the viewpoint of Dave Smith and should answer many questions surrounding the state software re-write timetable.

W2s & 1099s
All district W2s and 1099s were successfully generated, printed and delivered.  Over the next couple of weeks they will be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to verify that all social security numbers are valid and accurate.  Once that has been completed they will then be submitted for filing to SSA, IRS, RITA and CCA.  This year NEOnet prepared 19,108 W2s and 1,294 1099s for consortium members. 

NEOnet Debt Covenants
Firstmerit Bank has recently revised NEOnet’s building loan covenants.  The new covenants will more accurately reflect the nature of NEOnet’s business and remove the burden of costly reporting requirements. 

The original covenants required NEOnet to maintain a ratio of Operating Cash Flow to Total Fixed Charges of not less than 1.00 to 1.00, tested at the end of each fiscal quarter for the preceding 12-month period.  In order to calculate this ratio, NEOnet had to have quarterly GAAP statements compiled and reviewed within 45 days of the end of each quarter.  Since NEOnet operates on a cash basis, this proved to be a difficult and costly process. 

The new covenants have eliminated monitoring the ratio of Operating Cash Flow to Total Fixed Charges and with it the quarterly GAAP statement requirements.  In place of the old covenants, NEOnet will now adhere to the following;

  • Maintain minimum cash balances of $750K to be held at Firstmerit
  • Submission of cumulative quarterly cash statements within 45 days of each quarter end
  • Maintain a cash receipts less cumulative cash disbursements ratio of > $1.
  • Provide  a copy of the Annual Budget to Firstmerit within 30 days of Board approval
  • Inform Firstmerit immediately of any modified appropriations from the original Board approved budget in excess of $10,000. 

This modification will not only save the consortium ~$15K in GAAP statement preparation and review costs, it will save staff hours which can be used to service the consortium.  We truly appreciate Firstmerit agreeing to make this an easier process for us!

STRS Increase Reminder
Don’t forget that employee contributions are increasing to 12% July 1st.  The employer 14% contribution rate remains the same. 

NEOnet’s Three Year Forecast
The three year forecast continues to be worked on by the Finance Committee.  The goal is to have a completed document in place for the May 5th Assembly Meeting.  Current work has focused on the format of the accompanying assumptions document.  The Finance Committee will be meeting Thursday March 6th to review a draft of the assumptions. 

NEOnet’s Health & Dental Insurance Plans
NEOnet was not pleased with Huntington National Bank’s broker services since they twice provided rates that Medical Mutual did not honor and NEOnet was forced to pay higher rates than were agreed upon.  As a result, Gallagher Benefits Services, Inc. was hired to broker fees last summer.  In a typical year, NEOnet receives its insurance rates in late October to early November since presently the rates are on a calendar year cycle.  2013 was not however a typical year. 

With the evolution of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), NEOnet did not receive insurance rates from Gallagher until January 10th 2014.  Medical Mutual actually extended 2013’s rates an additional month to allow providers time to gather ACA information and incorporate that into the rate structures.  The rates NEOnet did receive reflected an increase of 21% over 2013 for the health plan, 5% of which account for ACA fees passed on to employers and employees and, 15% increase for the dental plan.  Upon receiving and approving the renewal at these rates during the January 14th meeting, the Board of Directors formed an Insurance Committee.  This committee’s charge is to review NEOnet’s current plan design, review optional plans available to NEOnet, ascertain if a move makes sense from a cost/benefit point of view and move the rating season from a calendar to a fiscal year cycle.

The committee met 1/23/14 with Gallagher Benefits to discuss the goals and review plan options.  A second meeting with has been scheduled for 3/5/14.

NEOnet Property Tax Exemption
NEOnet officially purchased its building at 700 Graham Road, Cuyahoga Falls during October of 2012.  Once NEOnet took possession of the building, an Application for Real Property Tax Exemption and Remission was filed through the Summit County Fiscal Office.  That request was however denied as NEOnet had unpaid taxes due because, even though NEOnet is a tax exempt entity, a building in Summit County is not exempt in the year of purchase.  Accordingly, NEOnet paid the taxes due and resubmitted its request in September of 2013.  The application was confirmed to have been received by the State 10/7/13 but it can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to receive a decision. 

Meanwhile, the Summit County Fiscal Office has stated that we have 2 options.  We can either, pay the taxes as they come due and file for a refund when granted exemption or, elect to not pay and wait for the exemption to be ruled on.  If we do not pay and are not granted exemption, we would be obligated to pay for the taxes and the interest on those taxes.  Since MRSC is a tax exempt Council of Governments pursuant to 3301.075 of the Ohio Revised Code we have decided to not pay.  Hopefully it will not take three years to receive our exemption!

Preventing Identity Theft on WIFI
Identity theft is probably not high on your wish list and nobody wants to try and explain how school bank accounts were hacked.  The following are some steps you can take to help prevent theft of your personal data while using WIFI. 

First, make sure to only log into websites that are using secure “https” in the URL instead of “http”.  When you are at a site with HTTPS you can find a lock symbol to the right of the website address on the browser itself.  HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol with Secure Sockets layer.  HTTPS encrypts data sent and received while HTTP sends it as plain text which anyone can read.  Many sites don’t offer SSL access though and it isn’t completely foolproof.  To be extra safe, consider waiting until you’re home with secure access until you do any online banking or log on to any account that requires a password.

You should also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever possible.   VPN creates a private network for you to shuttle information back and forth in.  It’s like using your personal cellphone to call someone across a crowded room instead of just shouting your conversation back and forth.  For those of you with laptops from your place of employment, you may already have VPN installed on your machine.  Follow the steps your IT department recommends.  You can install VPN software on personal devices as well. 

Finally, you need to be constantly vigilant.  WIFI has made access so easy that we tend to forget where we are sometimes.  The ability to sit down at Starbucks, pop open our laptops and log in is wonderful technology but you never know who is sitting around you.  Someone could be sitting there waiting for you to do just that and record your keystrokes with their phone camera on video mode.  A secure connection is meaningless if someone else is able to see which sites you go to and replay the video of your sign in. 

The safest bet is to wait until you’re in the privacy of your own home or at the office and on a secure signal before visiting any site that could display information you’d prefer to keep private.  If it just can’t wait however, follow the steps mentioned above and park yourself in the corner with your screen turned away from everyone else present. Taking advantage of free public WiFi can be a great way to catch up on your favorite Internet sites while you’re out.  Just be aware that you need to take precautions while you surf this way.

Fiscal Update