Municipal Finance Institute

This year, offered at the Annual Conference and Expo 2021.

SAFE Credit Union Convention Center

1400 J Street, Sacramento, CA

Designed for city officials and staff involved in fiscal planning for municipalities, the Municipal Finance Institute connects finance directors and other municipal finance professionals with the essential information they need for their job.

In recognition of the unique demands placed on finance officers, city treasurers, city managers, and other associated staff during December, education typically offered at the Municipal Finance Institute will now be offered at the Annual Conference and Expo in September. 

Finance Directors with a CPA Can Earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Finance professionals who hold a license as a California certified public accountant (CPA) through the California Board of Accountancy will be eligible to earn Continuing Professional Education credits — or CPE — during the Annual Conference, just as they did previously at the Municipal Finance Institute. A limited number of CPE learning sessions will be noted on the Annual Conference website when available. All conference participants are welcome to attend CPE-earning sessions.

For questions about registration, please contact our registrar, Megan Dunn. For all other questions, please contact Conference Program Manager Katie Pebler

Please see our event and meeting policies.

Check out our Speaker Center



Explore Previous Institutes

2020 Institute Sessions

Monday, Dec. 7

Sales Tax Update For Cities

9-10:15 a.m.

The Director for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) and will provide an update for attendees.

Moderator: Roberta Raper, Administrative Service Director, West Sacramento and President, Fiscal Officers Department, League of California Cities

Speakers: Karen Hughes, Manager, Local Revenue Branch, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration | Nick Maduros, Director, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration


FLSA Hot Topics & Legal Updates

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

This ever-popular session reviews the latest and greatest in Fair Labor Standards Act updates. With the new DOL regulations that became effective this year that address changes as to how overtime must be calculated, there is no better time to review, assess, and develop a strategy to ensure your agency is in compliance and strategize on how you may change existing pay practices as a result of the updated guidelines and to help ensure legal compliance.

Moderator: Dawn Holm, Director of Finance, Sacramento, Immediate President, Past Fiscal Officers Department

Speakers: Richard Bolanos, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore | Lisa S. Charbonneau, Associate, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore


Observations from Local State and National Economists

2-3:15 p.m.

This year, our economy is experiencing the unprecedented. Listen as three experts discuss current conditions, trends and forecasts for the economy from the local, statewide and national perspectives and relate these to the outlook for city finances. Following the presentations, Michael Coleman will lead the panel in conversation and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.

Moderator: Michael Coleman, League Fiscal Policy Advisor,

Speakers: Leila Bengali, Economist, UCLA Anderson Forecast | Carolyn Chu, Chief Deputy, Legislative Analyst's Office | Ted Egan, Chief Economist, City and County of San Francisco

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Legislative & State Budget Update

9-10:15 a.m.

Hear the latest on state legislation affecting city finances including housing, pensions, COVID-19 benefits, and local taxes. Learn about the state’s financial condition and budget and what to expect in the 2021 legislative year.

Moderator and Speaker: Nicolas Romo, Legislative Representative, League of California Cities

Speakers: Michael Coleman, League Fiscal Policy Advisor,


Can Finance and Economic Development Work Together After COVID-19?

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Covid-19 has rocked private investment particularly as related to hotel and retail. Cities have felt the loss of TOT and sales tax and seek to quickly recover financially. In an ultra-low interest rate environment, restructuring of public debt and creation of special districts become a necessary ingredient for recovery. Finance Directors are gatekeepers yet the pathway to revenue recovery and resiliency requires dramatic reset in terms of how to approach debt, density, development, job creation to create economic diversity. The panel will identify economic development approaches and explore the role of finance in delivering long term tax base sustainability.

Moderator and Speaker: Larry Kosmont, President & CEO, Kosmont Companies

Speakers: Damien Arrula, City Manager, Placentia | David Bilby, Director of Finance/Treasurer, Chula Vista


Being an Ally to Create an Inclusive Workplace in Finance

2:30-3:45 p.m.

Everyone in your department is responsible for exemplifying and reinforcing positive, civil behavior. This means entry level employees, all the way up to the Department Head, play a role in creating an inclusive work environment and culture. In order to do so, they must become aware of their own personal communication style and how it affects those around them, as well as have actionable tools for addressing non-inclusive behavior when they witness it. In this interactive and entertaining presentation, finance leaders will be able to go back to their departments with tangible tools for creating an inclusive workplace, where every employee is involved in sustaining a positive culture.

Moderator: Karin Schnaider, Finance Director, Tracy, 1st Vice President, Fiscal Officers Department

Speakers: Catherine Mattice Zundel, Founder & CEO, Civility Partners, Inc.

Friday, Dec. 11

Law and Elections Update

9-10:15 a.m.

Leading experts will review the latest major developments in California city revenues, spending and financing: important changes, significant challenges, and new opportunities. Learn about legal developments in taxes, fees, Proposition 218, Proposition 26, new laws, and the underlying issues for your agency’s finances.

Moderator and Speaker: Michael Coleman, League Fiscal Policy Advisor,

Speakers: Michael Colantuono, Managing Shareholder, Colantuono Highsmith Whatley PC


Negotiating Retirement and Health Benefits in Tough Economic Times

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Everything has changed after the COVID-19 Pandemic. Revenues are decreasing or vanishing but costs continue to go up. It is urgent that employers and employees identify cost-savings in order to avoid budget shortfalls and layoffs. Painful trade-offs and disagreements about how resources should be used are inevitable. This presentation will discuss cost-saving strategies that can be negotiated and implemented in tough economic times. Key areas to discuss are vested rights, reducing employee and retiree medical expenses, cost sharing of retirement contributions, and reducing reportable compensation.

Moderator: Roberta Raper, Administrative Service Director, West Sacramento, President, Fiscal Officers Department, League of California Cities

Speakers: Steven M. Berliner, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore | Robert Neiuber, Human Resources Director, Rancho Cucamonga | Michael Youril, Partner, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore


Pensions, the Coronavirus, and The CA Supreme Court

2-3:15 p.m.

Coronavirus has devastated many cities’ revenues. Pension rates continue to rise at a rate of about 50% every five years, with no end in sight. Absent a “V” shaped recovery or federal bailout, many cities face dire financial consequences in the coming years, as reserves are being exhausted. Last year, the Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in Cal Fire, which clarified that some aspects of pensions are not vested, upholding PEPRA’s elimination of “air time.” This year, the Court issued its decision in Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, another important vested rights case, which upheld PEPRA’s prohibition of various pension spiking provisions in ’37 Act plans. In particular, the court held that the elimination of a vested benefit does not always require the substitution of an equivalent benefit – a key element of the so called “California Rule.” Alameda opens the possibility that further, more substantial changes to not-yet-earned benefits of current employees may be permissible. Although some heralded the Cal Fire opinion as upholding the California Rule, astute observers noted that the Court had in fact restricted the instances in which it would find a “vested right.” Alameda suggests a further erosion of how some, including Unions, have viewed the vested rights doctrine. This session will look at how the Cal Fire and Alameda decisions may signal greater flexibility in pension benefits, should the Legislature or voters enact more aggressive pension reforms in the future.

Moderator: Dawn Holm, Director of Finance, Sacramento, Immediate Past President, Fiscal Officers Department

Speakers: Jonathan V. Holtzman, Founding Partner, Renne Public Law Group | Dane Hutchings, Managing Director of Government Affairs, Renne Public Policy Group



3:30-4:30 p.m.

Please join us to network with colleagues, discuss what you learned, and unwind from the conference. Winners of the bingo game will also be announced!


2020 Virtual Institute Access

In addition to access to all live sessions, session materials, and virtual networking opportunities, registering for the conference grants you access to all session recordings for later viewing for a limited time.

View the session recordings.


Session Materials

2019 Session Materials