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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Certified Municipal Finance Officer

Reference Number: MTAS-121
Reviewed Date: 07/14/2022

The Municipal Finance Officer Certification and Education Act of 2007 requires each municipality to have in its employ at least one certified municipal finance officer (CMFO) or employ a qualified exempt individual who meets the exemption criteria set forth in the law.

A municipality with $500,000 or less in gross revenues for all funds, including utilities but excluding one- time, non-recurring grants, and with debt totaling $500,000 or less in the immediately preceding fiscal year may designate a city employee as the individual who has financial oversight over city operations. That employee must earn at least sixteen (16) hours of financial continuing professional education which complies with CMFO guidelines each calendar year. The municipality should designate an employee who has knowledge of day to day operations or hire a CMFO or qualified individual who is exempt from CMFO education and certification.

MTAS, in conjunction with the state comptroller's office, develops the curriculum and provides the training and testing leading to the CMFO designation. The program includes at least eighty (80) hours of course and lab work in government environment, auditing and internal controls, government accounting, financial reporting, budgeting, debt administration, cash and investment management, strategic planning and capital improvement plans, pensions and benefits administration and risk management, and procurement and enterprise resource planning systems.

A candidate must be at least 18 years of age and a high school graduate or the equivalent to apply for the CMFO designation. A candidate shall not have been convicted of any felony or any lesser crime involving theft, fraud, or other crimes of dishonesty under the laws of this state, the United States, or any other state or county if the acts involved would have been considered a crime under those laws. The candidate shall not engage in any conduct reflecting adversely upon the candidate's fitness to perform services while certified as a CMFO. Each candidate must demonstrate proficiency in the subject matter for each course to receive the designation. A candidate may choose to take the examination instead of attending a class except for the course on government environment, which is mandatory.

To maintain certification, a CMFO, must earn at least sixteen (16) financial continuing professional education (CPE) hours per year. CPE hours in excess of sixteen (16) hours are not carried over to the next calendar year. Other designated financial oversight employees must also abide by these CPE rules and all individuals must file electronic reports with the Comptroller's Office annually.

The following individuals are exempt from the requirements leading to the CMFO designation, but must comply with CPE requirements:

  • An individual designated as a certified government finance manager (CGFM) by the Association of Government Accountants.
  • An individual designated as a certified public finance officer (CPFO) by the Government Finance Officers Association.
  • An individual licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA) by the state board of accountancy and in active status and who has a minimum of five years of primarily governmental experience with at least three of those years in Tennessee.

An individual working as a municipal finance officer with financial oversight who is claiming exemption shall send proof of exemption to the comptroller of the treasury. The comptroller shall keep a record of exempted individuals and their continuing education units earned.

When a municipality must replace a CMFO, the person hired must be exempt or must achieve the designation within two (2) years of being hired. If the CMFO or exempted individual leaves employment with the municipality, the municipality has two (2) years from the date of the departing CMFO's last day of employment.

A municipality may contract with a certified public accountant to perform the duties of a CMFO. The contracted CMFO shall devote a minimum of sixteen (16) hours per month to financial oversight on behalf of the municipality.

A municipality determined by the comptroller of the treasury to be in violation of the requirement that it have a CMFO in its employ is subject to a penalty of up to a 15% reduction in annual state sales tax revenue. Any revenue withheld will be held in reserve at the department of revenue. Upon compliance the funds will be returned to the municipality. T.C.A. §§ 6-56-401, et seq.