Hughes named to finance council

Shirley Hughes, Boulder City’s finance director, will now have a say on how state and local governments report their finances after she was recently appointed to the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council.

GASAC, as it is commonly known, is responsible for advising the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or GASB, on technical issues, project priorities and other matters that affect the standards for accounting and financial reporting by state and local governments.

The council and the board are part of the Financial Accounting Foundation.

“We look forward to her (Hughes’) valuable input on important financial accounting and reporting issues facing state and local governments,” said foundation President and CEO Teresa S. Polley.

The council consists of 25 members from across the United States with different backgrounds in finance. Hughes will represent the International City/County Management Association in her appointment, which will last two years. She can be reappointed twice more.

“I’m really looking forward to having that opportunity to at least put in my two cents worth,” Hughes said. “It’s another opportunity to be involved, or at least have a say in some of the standards coming out. It’s also an opportunity to give back and to spend some time with peers.”

GASB has influenced several changes in financial reporting throughout the years. Some changes have been minor, such as an adjustment in the vocabulary of pension funds, but others can hold a great deal of leverage, such as GASB No. 34 in 1999.

Prior to GASB No. 34, governments were not required to report their assets. Infrastructure like streets, bridges and sidewalks had not been accounted for in terms of value, and thus were not reported.

“GASB (No.) 34 required us to establish values for all of that infrastructure. Everybody had to go out and find the value of all this stuff,” Hughes said.

Although the standard took about five years to implement, it has since changed the way governments have reported their finances. Hughes will help to oversee some of those future changes, but she said she wants to make sure they are all meaningful and worthwhile.

“We want to make sure the new standards are being done for the right reasons,” she said.

The council is expected to meet about four times a year for two days each time. Hughes’ first meeting will be in March.

“The time that you get from it is invaluable because you get to talk with others like you about a variety of issues and how you deal with them. It gives you a greater perspective on what’s going on,” she said.

“To me, anytime you have an opportunity to expand your education is worth the time and effort.”

Hughes had previously worked in Maine, Virginia, California and South Carolina before becoming Boulder City’s finance director in 2011.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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