Minnesota Exam Process Goes On, But What Gives?
Now deep into the second week of the Minnesota government shutdown, it’s not as though examinations of credit unions have exactly stopped or slowed, since the NCUA is still doing its job
But CU executives calling the examination section of the state’s Department of Commerce said they do find it odd to hear the robotic recording: “The office is closed until further notice because of the current state interruption.”
“I did have one of our staffers ask one of the examiners yesterday if he was getting unemployment pay but I’m not sure what the answer was,” said Steve Oien, president/CEO of the $170 million Minnco CU. He said he had examiners in his Cambridge offices on Tuesday as part of a previously scheduled visit.
Like other Minnesota state charters, Oien said his CU is dealing with the curious regulatory environment as the NCUA has said “our examination schedule in state chartered credit unions in Minnesota continues as planned prior to the state government shutdown.”
The NCUA, said a Washington spokesman, “has taken steps to take on the direct responsibility for the validation processing of 5300 Call Reports for June 30, 2011 from the state charter credit unions should that become necessary. The 5300 validation collection process is normally handled by the state.”
That would mean that NCUA is apparently doing the fact checking “and the accuracy” of the 5300 reports, explained one Minnesota CEO.
While many Minnesota CUs have already begun offering loan modifications, waivers and various “skip a payment” packages to state employees now out of work, a recurring problem has been the logjam on commercial loan paper normally handled through state agencies, now closed or running with only “essential” staff.
Patrick Pierce, president of the $350 million City &County CU of St. Paul, said “some critical functions” of state government impacting CUs continue routinely but that processing issues have surfaced on loan record keeping handled through the Secretary of State.
“It’s kind of put a block on opening new commercial accounts since we can’t check to make sure what’s been filed with the state,” added Oien of Minnco.
As for exams, the Minnesota Credit Union Network said it has not received “any phone calls or inquiries from Minnesota credit unions regarding examinations during the shutdown.”
Meanwhile, CUs in metro Twin Cities, which have the bulk of furloughed state employees, said they have been preparing for the shutdown fallout since as early as February when talks in the legislature first erupted over a budget impasse.
“We were out to the branches months ago planning for this,” said Brian Volkmann, vice president of the $1.35 billion Affinity Plus FCU of St. Paul.