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CU System Briefs (07/09/2013)

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  • NEWARK, Del. (7/9/13)--Theresa Cannon, 32, of Wilmington, Del., has been charged with robbing a branch of Newark-based Louviers FCU on Kirkwood Highway on July 3 (Associated Press Newswires July 5 and Newark Post Online July 6). According to Delaware State Police, Cannon allegedly entered the credit union wearing a baseball cap that covered most of her face, gave a teller a note demanding money, then fled on foot. She was captured after a short chase when police responding to the robbery call spotted her walking along the highway.  She is charged with second-degree robbery and wearing a disguise during commission of a felony ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (7/9/13)--State Employees' CU (SECU) based in Raleigh, N.C., will begin relocating roughly 80 employees by the end of July into a new 12-story SECU tower in downtown Raleigh from other SECU offices (Triangle Business Journal July 5). Employee relocation from the $25.1 billion asset credit union's financial advisory services group will proceed through September, SECU spokeswoman Leigh Brady told the Journal. The new building will include a credit union branch and a six-story parking deck. Construction of the $45 million SECU office building began in late 2009, but went through a delay after a major subcontractor ,who was slated to install all the window panels in the building, filed for bankruptcy, the Journal said ...
  • PORTLAND, Maine (7/9/13)--Lauren Reeves has taken over as the Maine Young & Free spokester. Reeves was announced as the successor to Kylie Keene in mid-June, the Maine Credit Union League said (Weekly Update July 5). Since assuming her new position, Reeves has made several live television and radio appearances. The publicity has directed additional traffic to the Young & Free website, said Debra Trautman, assistant vice president of corporate marketing for the league. Several other radio and newspaper articles are scheduled for the coming weeks, the league said ...
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (7/9/13)--Ben Hill retired June 28 from Blue Flame CU as manager/CEO, culminating a 38-year credit union career. Along the way, Hill's love for numbers and passion for helping credit union members succeed has helped the Charlotte, N.C.-based credit union thrive, said the North Carolina Credit Union League. Hill became manager/CEO of the $37 million asset Blue Flame in 1990. Under his leadership the credit union grew in key areas, including assets, shares, loans and capital. Hill has also been active in the state and national credit union movement. He is a past chairman of the league (2006-2010), a past member of the board of directors for the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, and was appointed by former North Carolina  Gov. Jim Martin to serve on the North Carolina Credit Union Commission (1992-1995) ...
  • GREENSBORO, N.C. (7/9/13)--Lila Lowe, 71, former office manager and board secretary of Greensboro, N.C.-based Internal Revenue Employees FCU, died May 26 in a University of North Carolina Hospital in  Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Credit Union League  reported in its newsletter, The Weekly Conversation (July 3). Lowe served the credit union for 26 years as office manager and later served as secretary of the board of directors.  She is survived by her husband Jim, daughters Donna and Carol, and grandchildren ...

Postcards, Newsletters, More Aiding Tax Status Fight

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MADISON, Wis. (7/9/13)--Members at a credit union in South Dakota have stepped up to the plate to bat for preserving credit unions' tax status. They are among the more than 300,000 contacts credit unions have made so far to Congress in the Credit Union National Association's and the state leagues' nationwide "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign.

Click to view larger image Black Hills FCU staff in Rapid City, S.D., counted and sorted more than 2,000 "Don't Tax My Credit Union" postcards collected at its Member Service Centers in two days last week. The postcards were hand-delivered to three members of South Dakota's congressional delegation. (Photo provided by Black Hills FCU)

Black Hills FCU in Rapid City, S.D., a low-income community credit union with $966.6 million in assets and 54,038 members, started hand-delivering postcards signed by its members to its congressional delegation on July 2. Another delivery was planned for yesterday.
In two days, its members signed more than 2,000 post cards urging Congress not to tax credit unions. Roughly 900 were hand-delivered July 2 to the Rapid City offices of U.S. Sens. Tim Johnson (D) and John Thune (R),  and U.S. Rep Kristi Noem (R), said the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (The Memo July 8). 
"By July 26th, we are trying to get thousands of letters, e-mails and other communications to Congress urging representatives to not eliminate the credit union tax exemption," said CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson. "This is our No. 1 priority at this time," he added.
Other action by credit unions on the tax-exemption front:

  • In Parlin, N.J.,  Parlin DuPont Employees FCU, which has 633 members and about $4.3 million in assets, featured a "Don't Tax My CU" article as its top story in its July e-newsletter, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange July 8). The article connects to CUNA's Don't Tax My CU webpage where members can send a pre-written letter to their congressional representatives to encourage them not to touch the credit union tax status.
  • Essex County Teachers FCU, Bloomfield, N.J., with 2,750 members and $14 million in assets, told the league it included a statement stuffer with its July statements that feature the Don't Tax My CU!" logo and link to the national website.
  • As of June 27, New Jersey credit unions had generated 1,769 Capitol Hill lawmaker contacts, said Chris Abeel, NJCUL director of government affairs. "This issue is too important to rely on a few credit unions to carry the ball," Abeel said in a Facebook posting. "Every credit union must do its part. A credit union can't claim to be fully serving its members if it doesn't take time to advocate on an issue of such critical importance to America's 96 million credit union members."
  • The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, in a Keystone Extra (July 5) noted that Pennsylvania's credit unions have make 12,842 congressional contacts as of June 30.
  • Others are taking to the media to reinforce the don't-tax message.  For example, Missouri Credit Union Association Senior Vice President Amy McLard told the St. Louis Business Journal Online (July 5) that removing the exemption would become a  tax on working class people who are credit union members. "Even if you are not a member, you get a benefit because credit unions are a check and balance on banks," she said.  First Community CU also was quoted about what happened to mutual savings banks and thrifts which lost their tax exemption and collapsed. They "basically went out of business," said Steve Morgenthaler, senior vice president of finance of the $1.9 billion asset, Chesterfield, Mo.-based credit union.

CUNA's and the leagues' "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign is also using social media vehicles such as Facebook, a Twitter handle @CUNAadvocacy and hashtag #Don'tTaxMyCU and the social media micro-video site Vine. To join the action in spreading the message, credit unions can use the Tax Advocacy Tool Kit action. Use the links for more information.
Actively participating in the political and grassroots activities is one tenet of CUNA's Unite for Good, where credit unions rally together to help create a nation in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

Fund For Fallen Arizona Firefighters At $50,000

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PHOENIX (7/9/13)--Arizona State CU, which lost six members and one former member in the Yarnell Hill Blaze that killed 19 firefighters last week, has collected roughly $50,000 in donations for the fallen firefighters' families, as of Friday.
Paul Stull, senior vice president of the Phoenix-based credit union, told Credit Union Magazine Monday that the amount far exceeds the $20,000 match that the credit union hand announced last week.
A caravan of 19 fallen firefighters made its way from Phoenix to Yarnell and to Prescott, where it arrived Sunday. The procession went past two Arizona State CU branches, Stull told the magazine.
Those branches will be closed for a few hours today--before, during and after the community memorial service.

Donations are ongoing and will be given to the Prescott Fire Department to distribute. For more information, use the link to read News Now's story, Arizona State CU Sets Up Fund For Fallen Firefighters.

Cornerstone CU Foundation Awards Relief To Flood Victims

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/9/13)--The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, the charitable arm of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, has four emergency grants to employees of Del Rio, Texas-based Border FCU, who were affected by flooding in Eagle Pass, Texas in June.
Disaster relief is a critical function of the foundation. In addition to assisting credit union staff impacted by the flooding, the foundation also provided emergency grants to credit union staff impacted by the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.
The foundation was able to respond to the needs of credit union staff impacted by natural disasters because of the support of the credit union community, said Executive Director Courtney Moran. For example, after the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma on May 20, more than $161,000 in donations was received, allowing the foundation to provide immediate assistance to credit union employees in need.

Wash. DCU Issues Bulletin On CU Act Changes

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (7/9/13)--The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions Division of Credit Unions (DCU) issued a bulletin summarizing the new amendments to the Washington Credit Union Act.
The amendments become effective on July 28.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5302--which will allow credit unions to offer board compensation and other updates to the state Credit Union Act--on April 22.
Other sections covered in the bulletin include:
  • Special membership meeting notices;
  • Frequency of board meetings;
  • Number of unexcused board absences;
  • Suspension of a member of the board or a member of the supervisory committee;
  • Mutual funds containing permissible investments;
  • Loans to board members;
  • Occupied premises for credit union operations;
  • Majority board vote permitted for merger; and
  • Special board meetings may be called by DCU.
To view the bulletin, use the link.

Harrisburg Patriot-News Endorses PCUA's Better Choice Program

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/9/13)--The savings plan that credit unions offer as part of the Credit Union Better Choice program in Pennsylvania was endorsed Friday in an editorial by the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News Editorial Board.

"Credit unions, working with the state, offer struggling Pennsylvanians short-term loans with more affordable interest rates and longer payback times," said the editorial. "The loans include a savings plan to help the borrowers build up a financial cushion. That way, they won't get locked into repeatedly taking out those expensive short-term emergency loans.

"Instead of letting legal loan sharks set up shop in Pennsylvania, the legislature should be trying to make the credit unions' responsible, short-term lending alternative available to every Pennsylvanian who might need it," the editorial  added.

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association's Better Choice Program offers a payday loan alternative that includes financial counseling and required saving with a lower-cost, short-term loan. More than 70 credit unions in the state offer 90-day loans with a $500 limit. Since the program began in 2006, it has loaned more than 64,000 short-term loans--totaling $32 million--to credit union members (News Now June 5).
The program has saved borrowers more than $23 million over using a traditional payday lending product, said PCUA.   
To read the editorial, use the link.

Archbishop Of Canterbury Forms CU For Clergy

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LONDON (7/9/13)--The Archbishop of Canterbury has formed a credit union--the Clergy Mutual CU--and became the credit union's first member Sunday, according to his website.
The credit union will serve clergy and church staff in England and Scotland, using the Church of England's and Church of Scotland's  reach to expand access to credit unions, reported the London Telegraph (June 30).
The move aims to boost competition and create a more diverse financial sector, said Malcolm Brown, the Church of England's director of mission and public affairs, in the Telegraph article. 
Archbishop Justin's website noted the new credit union is "part of efforts to boost credit unions in all communities" in England and Scotland. He has praised credit unions and their role in deprived areas.
Plans call for encouraging church members with relevant skills to volunteer at the financial cooperatives. Small, local lenders also could be invited to use church buildings and other community locations with the help of church members, he said.
Credit unions are already being touted by the Duchess of Cornwall. Camilla joined a credit union--London Mutual CU in Peckham, England, in May, and had visited a number of credit unions in the previous 12 months in a show of support for credit unions that provide alternatives to payday lenders (News Now May 17).

Georgia Announces New Banking Regulator

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ATLANTA (7/9/13)--Kevin Hagler has been appointed commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The appointment was effective July 1 (Associated Press June 28).
"By choosing Kevin Hagler, the governor has chosen someone who has earned respect from all within the credit union system for being a fair regulator," said Mike Mercer, president/CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. "Kevin has been open to discussion with credit unions and the state trade association and uses a collaborative approach when evaluating state regulatory issues and dealing with credit union issues."
Deal replaces Robert Braswell, who is leaving the regulatory agency to become a lobbyist for the banking industry.
Hagler has worked as the department's deputy commissioner for supervision since 2008. He is responsible for oversight of state-chartered credit unions and trust companies. He previously worked at Altus Bank in Mobile, Ala., and SunTrust Bank in Atlanta.

N.C.'s Amended CU Act Now In Effect

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RALEIGH, N.C. (7/9/13)--A North Carolina bill that amends laws governing credit unions and was signed into law June 19 by Gov. Pat McCrory took effect July 1.
HB515 mostly makes changes to create consistency with North Carolina's banking laws as they relate to account provisions, said the North Carolina Credit Union League (The Weekly Conversation July 3).  
HB515 creates changes that affect these areas:
  • Minors--The Credit Union Act was previously silent on minor accounts. HB515 adds two provisions to allow a credit union to: 1) treat a minor as an adult for the purposes of share or deposit accounts and 2) create a simple custodial share account that one or more adults may open for a minor.
  • Investment Authority--State-chartered credit unions were permitted to invest in corporate bonds under North Carolina law, but were limited in making investments that have an AAA credit rating. The change under the investment provisions allows a state-chartered credit union to invest in investment grade corporate bonds with at least A+ or an equivalent rating, expanding a state charter's investment authority. State-chartered banks would still have a lower credit rating threshold of BAA.
  • Joint Accounts--Joint account holders can now terminate a joint account or have their names removed from the account.
  • Proper proceduresfor dealing with accounts of decedents who had a disability or had been found incompetent now are outlined under the Credit Union Act.
  • Powers of Attorney (POA)--The addition of a POA section provides clarity on when a credit union can rely on POAs without liability--until the time of receipt of actual notice of the principal's death or a written notice of revocation signed by the principal. That creates consistency with North Carolina banks in dealing with POAs.