Greetings, Neighborhood Council Treasurers, Board Members, and stakeholders. I hope this week’s newsletter finds you all well.

There are some very big updates to report for the NC Checking Account System, so I apologize in advance for this lengthier than normal article. Please see below for these important updates.


Armando Ruiz
Neighborhood Council Funding Program Director


· 10 days after your July NC Board Meeting – June Monthly Expenditure Reports due
· September 1, 2014 – Submit your NC Budget Package online

Upcoming Funding Trainings

· August 21, City Hall, 20th Floor- 6:00 pm
· September 4, Westside Regional – 6:00 pm
· September 10, Treasurer’s Roundtable CD 12 – 4:00 pm
· September 20, Congress

NC Checking Account Replenishment

With the birth of the NC Checking Account System, the Funding Team has been looking at ways to make the process as simple and seamless as possible. We have had about a month now to look at Cash Request Form submissions from various NC’s and have seen the pros and the cons of this process. In order to eliminate what may sometimes feel like an additional, routine and unnecessary step in the funding of the NC accounts, at the beginning of each month, Funding Staff will be replenishing each NC’s account to the $4,000 seed money balance. This is, of course contingent on many things. If the NC has a current balance of over $4,000, no additional funds will be added. If the NC is not current on their Monthly Expenditure Reports we will not automatically add more funds into the account. If the NC’s funds have been frozen for other reasons (exhaustive efforts, etc.), we will not automatically add more funds into the account. The Department will notify the Treasurer and Signer of any NC Checking Account whose funds are replenished automatically.

The Cash Request Form will still be available to the Treasurer and Signer if they need to add additional funds to the account. These will be processed and funds will be made available in the 3-4 day turnaround time mentioned in previous articles.

Split Charges Defined

Split charges are transactions that are intentionally split into multiple charges in order to circumvent transaction limits set by the Department. This practice is disallowed by the Funding Guidelines as explained in the Funding Training. The NC Checking Account bank card has a combined maximum daily limit of $500 (provided funds are available in the account). The cardholder cannot use the bank card to charge more than this amount without requesting an exception from the Department. The Bank Card Request for Exemption can be accessed from our Funding page.

Office Depot Discounts

Some of our more experienced and savvy Treasurers and Cardholder already know this drill. When they receive a new card, they call Office Depot to request that the City of Los Angeles’ discount rates be linked to their new cards. As a courtesy, and to ensure that every cardholder with the NC Checking Account is taking advantage of this discount, the Funding Team has coordinated with Office Depot to link all new cards to the discount. Cardholders, please ensure that when using your card at Office Depot, you ask the cashier to run it as a charge, not a debit, or else the discount will not be applied. If you have any problems with your card or the discount, as always, please contact the Funding Team.

Union Bank Support – It All Starts Here

We’ve had the opportunity already to troubleshoot a couple of accounts that had some technical errors and glitches. Although we appreciate the initiative taken by some Treasurers and cardholders to seek out assistance directly with Union Bank (either at a physical bank, or by calling their customer support line), this may not always get them the right answer. The reason is that the NC Checking Account System has a dedicated contact with Union Bank that is now very familiar with these checking accounts and the particular rules and framework under which we operate. For any troubleshooting, please start with the Funding Team. We will contact the dedicated Union Bank rep for any issue we can’t handle and get you a resolution that will work for you. Of course, in an emergency, or when Department staff is not available (weekends, etc.) you are encouraged to call the Union Bank customer service reps to report lost or stolen cards, place stop payments on checks, or request other such critical actions. Please follow up with the Department as soon thereafter as possible so we can assist you.

Funding Request Form – Pre Approval Checklist

Possibly one of the hottest topics with the new NC Checking Account System is how to use the Funding Request Form (FRF). When is it needed? When should the NC submit the form to the Department for Pre-Approval before issuing a payment? The answer to the first question is, always. Every expense issued from the NC Checking Account should have a Funding Request Form that has been completed for review and approval by your Board. Now the second question is trickier, since not every FRF requires pre-approval. In order to assist you with figuring out which requests need pre-approval, we have developed a checklist that will show you those categories of expenses, along with the documentation that should be submitted with the FRF. Remember, our new processing and turnaround time is 3-5 business days, before you are notified of the approval to pay out a vendor. For the checklist, please click here.

What About those Auto-Deducts?

As of July 1st, the Funding team has been working on contacting both the vendors as well as the Neighborhood Councils who regularly had their monthly operational costs sent to, and paid by the Department directly out of their appropriation accounts. The vendors have been notified to redirect all future invoices to the NC’s mailing address, and in turn, any invoices we received have been forwarded to the Treasurer/2nd Signers for them to pay out of the NC account. If for whatever reason the NC does not yet have access to their checking account (eg. Newly appointed Treasurer, etc) the Department will pay your invoices on your behalf out of the NC account and provide that information on our Check Tracker worksheet.

NC Checking Account Core User’s Guide

As part of our commitment to making the new checking account system easier to manage and navigate, the Funding team has released a new, quick hits guide. This 3 page document gives you the bare bones, need-to-know information on how to get access to your account, how to pay your bills, how to report expenses to the board, and a list of acceptable and disallowed expenditures. We hope this will give you the confidence to get up and running as soon as possible, but as always, when in doubt, please contact us for additional guidance.

Cash Request Form

Let’s talk about the Cash Request form (link). This is the simplest form of the new checking account system and it is used by the NC Treasurer or Signer when additional funds need to be added to your checking account. The Department deposited $4,000 seed money into each NC account in early July to get you going with funds to cover your operational expenses. If you need additional funds deposited into the account, you use the Cash Request Form to make that happen. All the Department needs is the form, completely filled out and signed by the Treasurer and 2nd Signer, and that’s it. No supporting documents, no invoices, flyers, permits, W-9’s, etc. are required for approval. So long as the form is complete, the NC is current on their MER’s, and their funds aren’t frozen, the Department will process your request and your funds will be deposited in 2-3 business days.

Union Bank Account Documents

In order for your NC to have a bank account opened, you must ensure that your Treasurer and 2nd Signer have completed all the necessary Union Bank documents. If you’ve had a change in Treasurer or 2nd Signer, you must complete new bank account documents by contacting the Funding Team right away.

2014-15 Budget Package

Please click here to review the 2014-2015 Budget Package instructions and requirements.

In-Person Funding Training

The Funding Team will be scheduling additional Checking Account Trainings. The next training is on August 21, 2014, from 6 – 9 pm in our downtown offices (see attached flyer). We will also be scheduling additional trainings throughout different areas of Los Angeles to help Treasurers, Signers, and any other interested Board Members navigate the new NC Checking Account System. Please keep an eye out on our EmpowerLA Events calendar, as well as in these newsletters for specific date and location information as it becomes available.

Full Funding Training Video Available

As further evidence of the awesomeness that is our Department staff, we’re proud to introduce a full Treasurer’s Training video now available on our website. Thanks to the video and technical expertise of Sevak Paramazian and Arin Abedian, this training has much better sound, visuals, and special effects. Jessica Pua, Kathleen Quinn, and the one and only Betty Wong Oyama will guide you through the intricacies of the funding program while you watch from the comfort of your own home, bed, hammock, whatever! Once the fun is over, make sure you follow the link to register your attendance and receive credit for your newly enhanced knowledge of funding practices.