While the nation's smallest banks scored a victory of sorts this month in fair-value accounting rules, banks that didn't prove small enough to make the $100 million-asset cutoff are still fuming.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board is exempting banks of $100 million in assets or less from reporting the "fair value" of assets and liabilities under Standard 107.

Betsy Duke, president of $145 million-asset Bank of Tidewater in Virginia Beach, Va., said she wouldn't mind calculating fair value if "it was something significant.

"The smaller you are, the less likely that you are able to do it in- house."

Ms. Duke said her chief financial officer spent days calculating the fair value of the bank's assets and liabilities last year. She said it's time that he didn't have.

"It takes up time that's not spent elsewhere," Ms. Duke said.

The rule mandates that banks disclose in a footnote to financial statements the fair value of all assets and liabilities. The Financial Accounting Standards Board mandated that banks with more than $150 million in assets comply by 1992.

All banks were required to comply by 1995. But since then bankers have been lobbying for an exemption for banks with fewer than $150 million in assets.

"It's not as far as we would have liked to have them go," said Thomas J. Sheehan, president of Grafton State Bank, Grafton, Wis., and chairman of the Independent Bankers Association of America bank operations committee. "But it would seem to me that it's certainly a move in the right direction."

The $100 million figure was an "arbitrary number," which Standards Board officials said was chosen to help ease the burden of some of the nation's smallest banks. The original exemption for banks with $10 million or less of assets helped too few banks, a FASB spokeswoman said.

But bankers of all sizes shouldn't get too comfortable with the exemption.

"This is not a permanent exemption," said Deborah Harrington, manager of public relations at the Financial Accounting Standards Board. "Some time in the future, the board hopes to resolve all these issues of fair value."

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