PACOE Dues Withholdings

You may have noticed that the dues withholdings in your pay period 4 deposit changed.  It had been many years since PACOE had updated withholdings amounts.  The new withholdings take into consideration any grade increases and raises that have been implemented since the last time this was processed.   If you want to see the current membership withholding amounts for each grade, please see the membership form available on the Membership page. 

NASCOE Website Furlough/Shutdown Page

A Shutdown Furlough Information page has been created on the NASCOE website. The page is NOT intended to replace agency guidance, but will accumulate information received by NASCOE Leadership regarding the shutdown and furlough. The button can be accessed at www.nascoe.org.

Information that is referenced on this page includes:

  • Link to the Office of Personnel Management website
  • OPM’s Shutdown Furlough Guidance Page
  • FAQs on Emergency Furlough
  • Department of Labor resources on Unemployment Benefits
  • SF-8 Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees form with USDA Information
  • USDA Ops Center Website
  • All NASCOE Communications on Shutdown and Furlough

The page may also be accessed directly at:
https://nascoe.org/furlough-guidance-for-nascoe-members/

The Furlough Information page will be updated throughout the shutdown as NASCOE leadership receives information.  Members are asked to refer any questions to their state association President, who will forward to NASCOE leadership through the Area Executives.

If you haven’t done so already, please follow the NASCOE website by visiting www.nascoe.org and entering your home email address in the “Follow blog by email” box.  On Facebook, enter @NASCOENews in the search box to find and “Like” the Nascoe News page.

2018-2019 Officers

The Executive Committee Convened on a teleconference on Monday, August 13 and elected officers for the 2018-2019 year.

President: Jason Pontillo *
Vice President: Mike Kerr
Treasurer: Jill Sajeski
Secretary: Dodie Yohn

District 1
Mary Jo Frazer
Ed Houston
Rebecca Ferraro
Melanie Housler

District 2
Kelly Sundy
Jessica Gerhart
Deanna Adamson
John Stinavage

District 3
Richard Csutoras
Johanna Mutti
Lori Cogley
Robin Foor

*Note:  Douglas Kilgore resigned as president effective October 2018.  The PACOE executive committee met via teleconference and appointed Jason Pontillo to serve as president for the remainder of the year. 

PACOE Approves New Travel Policy

The PACOE Executives met over the telephone on March 28, 2018 to adopt a new travel policy.  The document can be viewed here or downloaded by clicking this link:

PACOE Travel Policy

The following is travel policy as outlined by the Pennsylvania Association of County Office Employees (PACOE) Executive Committee and adopted on 03/28/2018. This guidance will remain in effect until otherwise replaced, amended or updated. Period review of this Travel Policy will be conducted.

For travel to be eligible for reimbursement from PACOE:

  • Travel must be official on behalf of PACOE (such as a delegate that was voted and approved by the Executive Committee to attend a Rally or Convention). (Note: Expenses for guests of the delegate are not reimbursable.)
  • PACOE will reimburse the travel expenses of up to two (2) delegates to the NEA Rally and National Conventions. Association members attending not in official capacity (not a delegate) are not eligible for reimbursement by PACOE for travel expenses.
  • All eligible expenses must be submitted to the treasurer using the PACOE expense reimbursement form within 120 days of incurring the expense in order to be reimbursed.
  • Expenses over $10 that could ordinarily be expected to have a receipt must be submitted with a copy of the receipt
  • If the member is traveling as a delegate, the delegates report must be submitted to the President before the reimbursement can be issued
  • All claims for reimbursement over $200 must be second party reviewed by an executive committee member before the treasurer can issue the check.
  • Advances may be authorized on a case-by-case basis with prior request and only to cover airfare or other ticketing expenses. Any advance not applied towards authorized PACOE travel expenses must be reimbursed in full within 30 days of scheduled event.
  • The PACOE Executive Committee is empowered to further restrict or exempt any policy here on a case-by-case basis if necessary to promote the welfare of the Associate.
  • No dual reimbursement will be allowed. If NASCOE reimburses the individual directly for the expense, PACOE will not reimburse.
  • All members should be in annual leave status when attending meetings unless otherwise authorized by the SED or State Administrative Officer.

 

Mileage

Mileage round trip at 50% of the POV mileage rate rounded to the nearest whole penny per mile in effect on the date of travel. Mileage will be paid based on round trip mileage calculated from the home address to the destination using a reliable web mapping service (Google Maps, MapQuest, etc.) for the shortest route.

 

Airfare

Airfare or train tickets will be reimbursed up to 100% of actual ticket expenses based on reasonable rates with the expectation that the traveler will seek to find the most cost effective means to transportation, including but not limited to driving to a larger airport. Round trip mileage between the residence and the airport will be reimbursed as described above. Non-refundable tickets when travel is canceled will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the executive committee.

Lodging

Rooms will be reimbursed by PACOE at up to the GSA per diem lodging rates established for the location based on double occupancy (i.e. up to 50% of the rate per each person). If the member wants a room by themselves or with another guest (spouse, etc.), PACOE will pay the equivalent of half the room rate and the member will be responsible for the remaining charges. Nights of the rally, convention or other official commitment date are reimbursable. Nights before or after the event are not eligible for reimbursement unless necessary for reasonable travel accommodations.

Meals

Meals will be reimbursed up to 50% of the actual meal expenses (broken down by meal with receipts provided) based on the M&EI rates that are established, per meal, for the location. Meals that are provided as part of the event registration fee are not reimbursable. First and last day travel will be limited to the meals necessary for the appropriate travel time, not to exceed two meals (breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner). Alcoholic beverages, tips, etc. are not reimbursable.

Registration Fees

Registration fees (for Rally, Convention, etc.) will be paid in full (100%) at the basic early bird registration rate. If the banquet is separate on the registration form and not included in the registration fee, it will also be eligible for reimbursement in full. Optional “extras” such as farm tours, t-shirts, and other event activities are not reimbursable.

Other

Other eligible expenses that can be submitted and will be evaluated for fair reimbursement include but are not limited to:

  • taxi or shuttle service to and from the airport
  • parking at airport, hotel, or meeting location
  • tolls paid on the travel route
  • cost of one (1) piece of checked luggage

POV, Per Diem and Meal and Expenses rate are available at: https://www.gsa.gov/travel-resources

NASCOE News Flash 3/21/2018

NASCOE will be heading to Washington DC the first week of April to conduct our annual negotiation session. The negotiation team has been preparing to present and negotiate the items submitted by membership. For those unfamiliar, suggestions on how to improve efficiency, improve working conditions or improve service to our producers are submitted by membership through the online submission form located on the NASCOE webpage. Those suggestions are vetted and then sent to management for consideration. The negotiations team which is comprised of the officers, the area execs and area negotiation consultants, then meet face to face with management to negotiate the item. To ensure equal representation from the areas, negotiation consultants must be a PT if the area exec is a CED and vice versa. All members are encouraged to participate in the negotiation process by submitting items for review.

NASCOE has received a few questions regarding the comment during the town hall regarding the one to ten ratio for supervisors and employees. This has been the standard touted by OPM for the federal workforce for the past several years. It is important to keep in mind the goal is to average one supervisor for every ten employees across the agency, not that every supervisor must have ten employees. It is very likely you will see this standard used while standing up the business center and in areas of the mission area where possible. NASCOE will continue to monitor this and other areas of concern as we move forward.

In addition to the negotiating with management, NASCOE will also participate in an all association meeting on Wednesday, April 4th. We will have the opportunity to see and visit with leaders from the agency, department and FPAC. This will give us the opportunity to follow up on some of the information that was provided in the recent town hall meeting. An update will be provided to the membership soon after the meetings.

The following is a legislative report from our consultant Hunter Moorhead.

“All – I hope this note finds you well. I want to update NASCOE’s membership on two important legislative initiatives, the omnibus appropriations measure and Farm Bill. The current continuing resolution is set to expire on March 23. We expect the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will soon wrap-up negotiations and meet the current deadline. This legislation will fund the government through fiscal year 2018. The Congress recently agreed to new spending limitations (caps) that should allow for adequate FSA salaries and expenses funding. We continue to urge Secretary Perdue to make available any additional funds for hiring county office staff. When finalized, we will share information about the final package.

“The other important legislative issue is reauthorization of the 2014 Farm Bill. While I expected the House Agriculture Committee this week to release draft legislative language, our contacts tell us it will likely be the middle of April. A group of Democratic House members have raised concerns with any effort to limit Food Stamp benefits. The other challenge for Chairman Michael Conaway is securing House floor debate time. On the Senate side, the negotiations are slowly moving forward, and any draft bill will follow action by the House of Representatives. We will continue to monitor the Farm Bill process and share any legislative information.”

NEA Rally Info

 

Greetings everyone!

The VT folks have been hard at work preparing for the 2018 NEA Rally in Bolton, VT and I’m extremely excited to share the registration details.  I think everyone will agree that VT looks to have put together one heck of a meeting.  Where else are you going to be able to network with your fellow NASCOE friends and then take a tour that includes beer and ice cream?!  Please take a look at the attached registration form and note the room block information, the registration deadline, and the transportation instructions.  Also, be advised that space on the tour is limited, so RSVP quickly to guarantee your spot!
Of course, feel free to reach out to me or Tina Williams if you have any questions.  I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Thanks!
Rick Csutoras
NASCOE NE Area Exec
Download the flyer and registration page!

Northeast Area Rally May 17 – 19th 2018 Bolton, VT
Deadline to register is April 30th

Conference Schedule
May 17
4:00-7:00 Registration
5:00-8:00 Taste of Vermont Hospitality Room
6:00-7:00 Dinner
6:30-8:30 Paint N Sip
May 18th
7:00-8:00 Registration & Breakfast
8:00-4:30 Rally Meetings
6:00-6:30 Social (Cash bar)
6:30           Banquet & Scholarship Auction
May 19
7:00-8:30 Breakfast
8:00-3:30 Farm Tours

NEA February Bulletin

Good Evening NEA Presidents and State Chairs,

Purpose
:   To share the latest NEA Bulletin to membership.

Background:   In order to communicate important information and upcoming deadlines, NASCOE intends to keep communication with it’s membership a top priority.  In addition to routine emails, committee reports, website updates, etc. we plan to release local newsletters or bulletins unique to each area several times throughout the year.

Action:  The goal is to get the bulletin distributed as widely as possible.  Some of the information may be time sensitive.

Thank you!
Rick Csutoras
NASCOE NE Area Exec

NASCOE News Flash 2/27/2018

NASCOE knows membership has many questions regarding reorganization of the department and FPAC realignment and we are working to secure answers to those questions. NASCOE is monitoring activities as they occur and engaging in the process when possible. Many of you have seen the FPAC Friday Roundup that indicated all employees would be receiving an update on the FPAC realignment. The leaders of the FPAC agencies (FSA, NRCS & RMA) have been charged with the task of sharing this information at the local level but were not given a specific delivery strategy to do so. Some State Offices have decided to provide the information jointly with sister agencies and others have not. Some are hosting webinars at the state level and others are doing it by district. There isn’t any one way or one agency that is dictating how this information is being shared. The FPAC Friday Roundup also mentioned they are planning a virtual town hall meeting in mid-March and continuing on a periodic basis after that. NASCOE encourages the membership to participate in the town hall meetings as they become available.

Convention and rally season is getting here quickly. Attending a state convention or area rally is an excellent opportunity to meet and interact with senior members of management from the national office, co-workers from across the state or area and NASCOE area executives and officers. The National Office has committed to having two members of senior management at the area rallies and I encourage everyone who can to make reservations and attend. With the many changes and challenges we are currently facing, being able to communicate face to face with National Office management leaders is a unique opportunity to ask questions directly to those involved in the decision-making process.

NASCOE is always seeking opportunities to participate on work groups and task forces established by management and have been provided that chance several times the past few years. For example, NASCOE has had a representative on the Managerial Cost Analysis work group for nearly two years. This group has been working on a workload tool. In addition to the cost analysis part of the tool, a smaller group has been established to start the process of developing a staffing tool. This work group has been holding multiple conference calls weekly and is scheduled to travel to Washington, DC the week of March 12th to continue the work in a face to face setting. Past NASCOE President Wes Daniels is NASCOE’s representative on the work group.

NASCOE was asked to provide names to participate in a Competency Assessment focus group, which is tasked with looking at and establishing the necessary competencies for various grades and positions. Their focus will be to identify the necessary competencies needed to move from a current level of responsibility to a level requiring a higher level of responsibility. Donny Green, a CED from Tennessee and Brenda Moore, a PT from Oklahoma are NASCOE’s representatives on this group.

We have also been asked to provide names to represent field employees on a task force to help write the policies and procedures for the new ad hoc disaster bill announced in the Bipartisan Budget Deal recently passed. The new program will focus on providing relief for producers who grow crops, vines, bushes and trees. NASCOE has provided several names to be considered for final selection on the task force. NASCOE will share those names as they become known.

NASCOE is making every effort to monitor activities as we transition into the new mission area. We will continue to provide as much information as possible going forward. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to your area executive or NASCOE officers.

Dennis Ray
NASCOE President

Federal Appropriations and 2017 Disaster Assistance

NASCOE has a lobbyist and consultant, Hunter Moorhead of Crossroads Strategies who works on behalf of NASCOE membership.  He provided this update on the recent Federal Appropriations and 2017 Disaster Assistance that passed congress.

February 25, 2018
To: NASCOE Membership

From: Hunter Moorhead
Subject: Federal Appropriations and 2017 Disaster Assistance

This memorandum outlines the current appropriations/budget negotiations and the likely pathway forward for both fiscal years 2018 and 2019. In addition, this document outlines the recent passage of disaster assistance for states impacted by last year’s natural disasters. Following the brief government shutdown, Congress quickly reached an agreement to complete the 2018 appropriations process, provide disaster assistance and set spending caps for 2019. We believe this agreement paves the way to fund the government and avoid the uncertainty of budget sequestration and continuing resolutions.

On February 9, the House of Representatives passed the continuing resolution. This legislation extends government operations through March 23 and sets spending limitations that allow the 2018 bills to be finalized and sent to the President for his signature. The negotiations eliminated the budget sequester for two years and increased spending for both defense and non-defense. The final deal also included specific funding for the below policies.

Budget Agreement:

(bilions)

FY17

FY18

FY19

Current law defense cap

551

549

562

Cancel defense sequester

54

54

Security priorities

26

31

New defense cap

551

629

647

OCO/emergency

83

71

69

Defense discretionary total

634

700

716

Current law nondefense cap

519

516

529

Cancel nondefense sequester

37

37

Domestic priorities

26

31

New nondefense cap

519

579

579

OCO

21

12

8

Nondefense discretionary total

539

591

605

Spending Agreement:

 National Institutes of Health – $1B for 2018 and $1B for 2019;
 Opioids and Mental Health – $3B for 2018 and $3B for 2019;
 Veterans Administration healthcare backlog – $2B for 2018 and $2B for 2019;  Infrastructure – $10B for 2018 and $10B for 2019;
 Child Care Development Block Grant – $2.9B for 2018 and $2.9B for 2019; and  Higher Education – $2B for 2018 and $2B for 2019.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working now to finalize the fiscal year 2018 spending levels across all government programs. The deadline for completing negotiations is set for March 23. This will allow the Department of Agriculture to operate for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

The agreement also included disaster assistance for areas impacted by 2017 hurricanes. At this point, the Department of Agriculture is working to determine procedures and sign- up dates.

Disaster Assistance for USDA programs:

The supplemental provides a total of $3.597 billion in disaster funding for programs under the jurisdiction of the agriculture subcommittee. This funding will provide relief for producers, families, and communities in states affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and recent wildfires. The bill also makes changes to existing mandatory disaster programs to accommodate losses resulting from the 2017 drought.

Ad Hoc Agriculture Disaster – $2.36 billion for crop disasters as a result of hurricanes and wildfires. Producers who purchased crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) on eligible crops will be allowed to recoup up to 85 percent of their losses. Producers who did not have crop insurance or NAP on eligible crops will be allowed to recoup up to 65 percent of their losses. Producers receiving payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP policies on eligible commodities for each of the next two years.

Disaster Program Changes – $42 million – Removes the annual statutory cap on the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, currently set at $20 million per year. Amends the Livestock Indemnity Program to cover “sold livestock for a reduced sale price” as cause for an indemnity payment due to natural disaster or drought (only mortality is currently covered), and removes payment limitations currently capped at $125,000. It increases payment acreage for the Tree Assistance Program from 500 acres to 1,000 acres. All changes would be applied to losses incurred on January 1, 2017 or later.

Office of the Inspector General – $2.5 million for Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit and investigative oversight activities related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Research Programs – $22 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to repair damages to 14 ARS-owned facilities and equipment resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Conservation Programs – $941 million – $400 million for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and $541 million for the Emergency Watershed Program (EWP).

Rural Development – $184.1 million – $18.6 million for Multi-Family Housing Direct Loans for rehabilitation of multifamily housing properties affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Funding is needed to cover properties damaged or destroyed but not covered by existing insurance policies. $165.5 million for the Rural Utilities Services to repair drinking water systems and sewer and solid waste disposal systems affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Within this amount, $2 million is provided for technical assistance.

Nutrition Programs – $38 million – $24 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to provide an additional 35 million pounds of food for food banks in states affected by hurricanes and wildfires. $14 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help repair and replace equipment in WIC clinics in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Conclusion:

We are working to secure the highest funding level possible for fiscal year 2018 FSA Salaries and Expenses. Once finalized, we hope the Department of Agriculture will hire new county office employees. County office staff numbers are so low customer service is being negatively impacted. Our NASCOE leadership has meet with various FSA and USDA officials to urge them to hire additional employees.