St. Charles Parish finances get clean state audit

by Shelton on July 31st, 2014

filed under Finances

The St. Charles Parishgovernment has received a clean auditfor 2013.The audit, conducted by the Metairie CPA firm of Carr, Riggs amp; Ingram, reflects an overall healthy fiscal picture with a fund balance of $89.8 million, an increase of $616,000 from 2012. Of that amount, $8.1 million was unassigned and thus available for spending at parish officials discretion, according to the audit.

However, auditors did suggest that officials revamp the way they pay charges on a Sams Club credit card. Initially, the Purchasing Department received the monthly store charges and reconciled the purchase orders to receipts turned in by employees who are authorized to use the card. The charged amounts were then forwarded to the Finance Department for payment.

To prevent the possibility of fraud, auditors suggested that the Finance Department receive the monthly statement and reconcile the purchases to the actual statement balance before processing payment.The parish instituted the change in May, according to the audit.

The audit also reflected that the Wastewater District recorded a $3.5 million loss in 2013. Parish officials say the department, which includes sewerage operations, maintenance and capital improvements, has operated at a deficit for a number of years because the user fees are not enough to cover operations.

In 2012, St. Charles implemented a three-year rate increase schedule. But the Wastewater District is still subsidized from the general fund, Chief Financial Officer Grant Dussom said.

St. Charles is creating a non-domestic sewer program, thats aimed at increasing revenue for the department by charging businesses based on the amount of discharge into the system. Currently, commercial users and residences pay the same rate, Dussom said.

Read thefull audit.

Independent health care providers gone unpaid for two months

by Shelton on July 31st, 2014

filed under Cash Advances

Independent health care providers gone unpaid for two months

Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 07:56 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) — The problem of home health care aides not getting paid in Ohio began after the Ohio Medicaid program stopped paying providers directly.

Insurance companies took over but the providers said they have not been paid since June 1. They said they may have to quit to get other jobs and their patients will suffer. The state of Ohio finally conceded something was wrong. A memo from the Medicaid department said they heard of certain billing issues experienced by independent providers. But Local 12 learned the issue went beyond independents who work for themselves.

The Ohio Council for Home and Hospice Care represents 500 agencies which employ home health care workers. In a letter to a state legislator, the council outlined all sorts of problems. It said it was clear the MCOs (thats the insurance companies) knew about the roll out months in advance and were not prepared for such a major shift in how Medicaid services were handled in Ohio.

The council said many agencies were struggling due to cash flow problems from not being paid. One Cleveland agency had $300,000 in outstanding claims and was forced to lay off 10 people.

A representative for the Home Care and Hospice Association said he hoped to have a meeting in southwest Ohio within the next two weeks to deal with the problem. The change from state payments to insurance companies was part of a nationwide pilot program involving 15 states. In Ohio, different companies handle the claims in different parts of the state. In the tri-state area, its Aetna and Molina. Most of the complaints Local 12 received involved Aetna.

A spokesman for Aetna told Local 12 they were trying to deal with the issue saying, We have identified the problem with our systems and are implementing processes to resolve this as quickly as we can. In the meantime, we are manually processing claims, increasing our check runs to twice a week and; where required, offering cash advances to health providers.

Follow Jeff Hirsh on Twitter @local12jeff and LIKE him on FacebookIndependent health care providers gone unpaid for two months

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) Rounds Out Big Bank Earnings – Here’s What We …

by Shelton on July 30th, 2014

filed under Car Lending

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) reported Q2 earnings this morning (Wednesday) that were dragged down by mounting litigation costs in addition to a decline in mortgage originations.

Second-quarter earnings from big banks have so far mostly surpassed estimates, but investor reactions have been mixed.

Wells Fargo amp; Co. (NYSE: WFC) kicked off Q2 bank earnings season on Friday. The fourth-largest US bank by assets managed to boost earnings and meet analyst estimates by ramping up its credit card and car-lending units. The move offset a dip in its mortgage arm. Shares were modestly lower following the report – although Wells didnt deliver any surprises, its numbers failed to impress.

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) posted better than expected earnings on Monday. The New York-based bank reported a profit of $181 million, or $0.03 per share, in Q2. Stripping out a $3.8 billion charge related to a deal with the US Department of Justice, Citis earnings per share (EPS) of $1.24 topped the $1.05 analysts projected. Shares ended the day up $1.42, or 3%, to $48.42.

JP Morgan Chase amp; Co. (NYSE: JPM) on Tuesday reported Q2 EPS of $1.46 versus $1.29 expected by analysts. Revenue for the largest US bank came in at $25.3 billion versus consensus estimates of $23.86 billion. Shares finished the day at $58.27, up $1.98, with volume at a 3-month high.

Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) also posted a strong earnings beat on Tuesday. The investment powerhouse particularly impressed with a sharp rise in its investing and lending units. Goldman shares jumped 1.69% to $169.98 on the news.

Wednesday brought numbers from some key sector players, including beleaguered Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and a couple major regional banks.

Lets first take a closer look at how BofA fared and how reported Q2 earnings affected BAC stock today…

Mink Producers Granted More Time to Repay Cash Advances

by Shelton on July 30th, 2014

filed under Cash Advances

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — (Marketwired) — 07/16/14 — Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Canadas mink producers facing financial challenges as they adjust to a dramatic shift in the world mink market have been granted more time to repay cash advances under the Advance Payments Program (APP). Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz today announced a national Stay of Default for mink producers who have a 2013 APP cash advance on mink pelts issued through the Agri-Commodity Management Association (ACMA), the PEI Federation of Agriculture, the Canada Mink Breeders Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, and the Fur Farmers of Canada Marketing Association.

Mink producers now have until June 1, 2015 to repay their 2013 advance in full. The Stay of Default was granted at the request of the APP administrators to provide producers with an additional eight months to sell their pelts and to repay their outstanding APP advances. Producers will also have the option to repay their APP advances in cash without penalty and at a lower rate than the original APP advance rate, to reflect the decline in prices.

Producers who received an APP advance on milk pelts for the 2013 production period are eligible for the Stay of Default and are encouraged to contact their APP program administrator for more details.

Quick facts

— The price of mink fur has dropped significantly this past year. As a
result, mink producers may be unable to repay their APP advances by the
September 30, 2014 deadline.
— The APP is a financial loan guarantee program that provides producers
easier access to credit through cash advances. Under the APP, producers
can receive cash advances of up to $400,000 on the value of their
agricultural product, of which the first $100,000 in each production
year is interest free. The deadline to repay APP advances for the 2013
production period has now been extended to June 1, 2015.
— Canada was home to 233 mink farms in 2012, up from 224 in 2008. Farm
cash receipts from the sales of furs (including both fox and mink) in
Canada amounted to almost $248 million in 2013, up from almost $92
million in 2008. (Statistics Canada)

Quotes

This stay of default will alleviate some of the pressures Canadas mink producers currently face giving them more time to sell their pelts, increase their cash flow, and contribute to our economy.

– Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz

The extra eight-month extension to make repayment will ease a lot of the current cash flow pressure, allowing ranchers to get their current pelt crop to market in the winter and spring.

– Brad McCallum, Executive Director, Agri-Commodity Management Association

Additional links

– Advance Payments Program

– Agri-Commodity Management Association (ACMA)

– PEI Federation of Agriculture

– Canada Mink Breeders Association

– Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture

– Fur Farmers of Canada Marketing Association

Pension Advances Spell Trouble

by Shelton on July 29th, 2014

filed under Cash Advances

Do you need cash today? Do you have a pension? Get a lump-sum advance on your pension payments to pay off your bills now!

These pitches, mostly through Internet-based sites, spell trouble. In exchange for “signing over” your monthly payments for money now, you’re getting a lousy deal. You may also have to buy a life insurance policy to ensure that the company “buying” your pension gets paid — even if you die.

Despite the mangled math, pension-advance services are thriving and are virtually unregulated. When I searched for “pension advances” on Google, I got more than 12 million hits.

I looked at this business two years ago with Dan Fisher of Forbes and didn’t like what I saw. The business is still operating unfettered today, although the Federal Trade Commission, FINRA and Securities and Exchange Commission have issued warnings. Here’s what the FTC had to say in a recent consumer notice:

“Pension advances, also known as pension sales, loans, or buyouts, require you to sign over all or some of your monthly pension checks for a period of time — typically five to 10 years. In return, you get a lump sum payment, less than the pension payments you sign over. So, unlike other types of cash advances or loans, taking out a pension advance means signing over money you need to live on.

Pension advances aren’t cheap: The transactions often include fees that can push the effective annual percentage rate (APR), the cost of credit on a yearly basis, over 100%. In addition, retirees often are required to buy a life insurance policy — with the pension advance company named as the beneficiary — to insure that the repayments continue.”

Why Recent Graduates May Want To Reconsider Their Bank

by Shelton on July 29th, 2014

filed under Student Credit Cards

Graduation is a turning point personally, socially and professionally. While those changes may take months or years to fully develop, getting your degree sets you on the beginnings of a new path.

You can add banking to the list of things that should be different going forward. Once you graduate, your banking needs may change. As a result, it may be time to graduate to a new bank. Here are six reasons why:

  1. You may need to look for a new no-fee checking account. As free checking accounts have become more scarce, a popular option remains checking accounts that charge no fees for students. Once you graduate though, you may no longer be eligible for these accounts. Free checking accounts for non-students have not completely disappeared though, especially if you look at online banks, so make sure you shop around to avoid these fees.
  2. Savings account rates are now a factor. In college, students struggle to keep enough in checking to finance the next pizza, so accumulating savings is not part of the financial picture. Once you start working though, you should start putting aside some savings. This means that savings account interest rates should be a factor in your choice of banks. In general, bank rates are quite low right now, but be advised that they vary widely from one bank to another. Use online resources to find a relatively high-yield savings or money market account.
  3. Your ATM needs may be different. Banks usually charge extra when you use an ATM outside of their network, and when you leave college and get a job, you may find yourself living in a different area. An ATM network that fit your prior travel patterns may not be so convenient anymore. You should look for a bank with ATM locations that suit your new habits, so you don’t rack up a mountain of extra fees.
  4. You may be ready to enjoy new technologies. You may have piggy-backed on your parents’ banking relationship in order to avoid fees, and there is definitely a generational difference in how high a priority people put on mobile apps. Now that you are free to choose your own bank, you can look for the technological capabilities that will make your banking easier.
  5. For better or worse, you may have a credit history by now. Student credit cards are priced on the premise that the customer has little or no credit history. If you have had a card for a few years, your credit history may be starting to affect the rate you are charged. This may help you or hurt you, but in either case now is a good time to shop around for a better rate.
  6. It is time to take the long view. Your focus can now extend past graduation to the long term. Building a career, saving for your next car, saving for a house and even saving for retirement are all goals that should be on your radar screen. You need a bank with a combination of services that can help you toward those goals.

Congratulations on your recent graduation from college. It is an achievement that generally takes smarts, diligence and perseverance. You will have to draw on those same resources to help your finances graduate to their own new, post-academic phase.

VMC finances in a mess, says Mayor

by Shelton on July 28th, 2014

filed under Finances

City Mayor Koneru Sridhar was at his candid best while narrating the woes of Vijayawada Municipal Corporation, especially on the financial front, at a meeting organised by Krishna District Olympic Association at IGMC stadium, here on Monday.

I am more worried about providing food to my employees. For the past three months those cleaning the roads are not paid salaries. I feel sad about the civic staff as they are suffering owing to bankruptcy, he said.

Mr. Sridhar said the corporation which was functioning in surplus earlier was reduced a shambles owing to poor policies of the Congress government. The special officer regime ruined the corporation as several quixotic decisions were taken by the bureaucrats. All the major civic properties have been mortgaged and we need to pay Rs. 3.5 crore as interest for the loans taken, he said.

Mr. Sridhar also said the annual youth festival was not taking place for the past five years owing to want to funds.

Nursing homes await Medicaid payments

by Shelton on July 28th, 2014

filed under Cash Advances

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 26HAMILTON — A delay in Medicaid payments through a new state program has left nursing homes across the state wondering if they can meet payroll demands and other costs.

Butler County Commissioners on Thursday approved an advance of $250,000 to the Butler County Care Facility, a 109-bed nursing home in Hamilton.

The care facility made the request earlier this week in order to make payroll during the month of August, said

Chuck Demidovich, administrator at the care facility.

I dont have a bank I can go to to get a line of credit, Demidovich said, who has 135 employees. I believe there are homes out there that wont be able to make payroll and wont have lines of credit available.

The care facility is one of many across the state whove joined a three-year pilot program called MyCare Ohio, a managed care plan to coordinate benefits for those receiving both Medicaid and Medicare. The program launched May 1 in 29 Ohio counties.

Previously, skilled nursing facilities would directly bill the Ohio Department of Medicaid for services. But that billing is now done through five private insurance companies signed on to MyCare Ohio — Aetna, CareSource, Buckeye, United and Molina.

Commissioner

Don Dixon said its obvious the system is not working well.

This is no fault of the county home management; the state is behind in its payments, Dixon said. Its going to cause a huge problem for the private sector people who cant do the advance; fortunately, the county home has us to write a check for the payroll.

Dixon said the $250,000 will come out of the countys contingency plan — meant for times like this — and will be repaid by the care facility.

Demidovich said the Butler County Care Facility — using plans from Aetna and Molina — submitted claims for the month of June on July 3. As of this week, hes gotten no notice the claims were accepted and no payments have come in.

When we bill Medicaid one day, we get payment five days later, Demidovich said.

Sam Rossi, spokesman for Ohio Department of Medicaid, said there are currently 108,000 Ohioans enrolled in MyCare Ohio that are getting both Medicaid and Medicare assistance. Those patients are represented by over 29,000 health care providers.

A handful of independent providers have had issues getting paid, Rossi said.

Rossi said the state doesnt have a way of knowing just how many providers are affected. He said providers experiencing problems with billing should contact their plan provider.

The plans are the one paying them, Rossi said.

Rohan Hutchings, spokesman for Aetna, said the insurance company is aware of the billing problem and is working to resolve the issues.

We have identified the problem with our systems and are implementing processes to resolve this as quickly as we can, Hutchings said in an email. In the meantime, we are manually processing claims, increasing our check runs to twice a week and where required, offering cash advances to health providers.

Demidovich said he got no such offer from Aetna, and decided to be proactive in order to meet the demands of the three-paycheck month coming up in August.

In a July 24 health care advisors update from HWamp;Co., an Ohio accounting firm offering financial services to nursing homes, the company detailed the billing problems still prevalent three months after the launch of MyCare Ohio.

Despite their best efforts, plans are still struggling to make accurate and timely payments to skilled nursing facilities for services provided, according to HWamp;Co. Not only is this financially detrimental to providers, but the MyCare Ohio rollout has required an increased use of nursing home staffs time for billing and collecting, as they re-bill claims and study denials in an effort to understand how to get paid.

___

(c)2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

Visit the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio) at www.journal-news.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Who Finances Residential Solar in 2014?

by Shelton on July 27th, 2014

filed under Finances

Last month GTM Research published its latest report on residential solar financing. As part of that update on the leaders and trends in the industry, we outlined the top (and emerging) finance providers in the market.

Source: GTM Researchs US Residential Solar Financing 2014-2018 (click to enlarge)

We changed the format and companies included in this taxonomy since the version released last year to reflect two important trends were following in the world of residential solar finance.

First, while last years taxonomy was exclusively a list of companies offering third-party-owned solar (leases and PPAs), weve since added loan providers to the list. Third-party ownership is expected to peak at 68% of the residential PV market this year, and loans are already beginning to play a much larger role as a financing option for consumers. Loan providers include banks (Admirals), as well as new players in the residential solar market, some of which have experience financing energy efficiency loans (Kilowatt Financial) or commercial solar (Mosaic).

Second, we split the companies into four categories based on business model. The first two were previously the only major financing models that existed in the residential market:

  • Vertically integrated financiers both provide financing and install systems themselves. The only two companies that currently use this model are SolarCity and Vivint, the two largest residential installers.
  • Partner model financiers provide financing for systems installed by multiple local or regional partners. Currently, this list includes companies that provide leases (eg, Sunnova), loans (eg, Sungage Financial), and both (eg, SunPower).

Over the past six months or so, two entirely new categories have emerged as a result of acquisitions and other changes to business models:

  • Semi-integrated financiers finance all systems but use both partners and internal resources for sales and installation. Falling into this category are Sunrun and NRG, each of which recently acquired one of their installation partners but still continue to utilize others.
  • Semi-integrated installers use both internal and external sources of financing but sell/install all systems themselves. Included in this list are Sungevity, which recently began installing systems for Sunrun and Clean Power Finance in addition to using its own financing, and RGS Energy and Astrum Solar, two installers which are now raising their own project funds.

Which of these models will prove most effective? So far, SolarCitys status as both the leading installer and the leading TPO provider (complete third-party financier rankings are available in the report) supports the vertically integrated model. However, the shifting mix of consumer financing options suggests that the future market leaders will be those which can combine a scalable business model and the availability of financing options that consumers want.

***

Nicole Litvak is a solar analyst at GTM Research and the author of the recently released report US Residential Solar Financing 2014-2018. For more information on the report, visithttp://www.greentechmedia.com/research/report/us-residential-solar-financing-2014-2018or contact Matt Casey atCasey@gtmresearch.com.

Tags: admirals bank, cleanpower finance, gtm research, mosaic, nrg, solar financing, solarcity, sungevity, sunpower, vivint

Tufts improves finances in third quarter by managing expenses

by Shelton on July 27th, 2014

filed under Finances

Tufts Medical Center improved its financial performance in the third quarter of its fiscal year thanks to higher outpatient volume and tightly managing its expenses, the Boston-based hospital reported.Tufts registered a $16.9 million (PDF) surplus on revenue of $177.3 million for the quarter ended…