Tag Archives: Government

Dealing with Change: Tips for a Seamless Software Conversion

7K0A0190How many times have you heard the words, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” from a co-worker’s mouth? Most likely, a lot! So when it comes time to make a change—in assigned roles, vendors, software, or processes—it can be difficult! Especially when we’ve grown so accustomed to a certain way of doing things.

In the wise words of Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

At Black Mountain Software, we understand what it means to ask a county, municipality, school or utility to change. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, School Software, Technology, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survival Guide for Local Government Budget Season

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org  This microstock required lots of post processing to get the blue tint. I also needed a bounce card to  get more detail in the glasses.

We said the “B” word: Budgets. They can be…well, a bugger. Long, complicated, and requiring a lot of analysis. A few “B” words came to our mind when thinking of budget: “boring,” “baffling,” and “bothersome.” But that’s ok, because we’ve pulled together a list of local government best budget practices that are the exact opposite–short and sweet–to assist with your budgeting success.

 

A Clerk’s Survival Guide to Government Budget Planning

Determine What Elements to Include In Your Annual Budget.

Planning the annual budget is a long process, with many daunting tasks and thoughtful considerations. Some budgets are fairly straight forward, while others are specific and complex documents. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New IRS Resource helps Employers Understand the Health Care Law

by: The United States Internal Revenue Service

The following article can be posted on your websites and used in other communication vehicles to help employers get the facts about the new IRS web page for applicable large employers.

The new ACA Information Center for Applicable Large Employers page on IRS.gov features information and resources for employers of all sizes on how the health care law may affect them if they fit the definition of an applicable large employer.

The web page includes the following sections:

  • What’s Trending for ALEs,
  • How to Determine if You are an ALE,
  • Resources for Applicable Large Employers, and
  • Outreach Materials.
Read more >
Posted in Accounting Basics, BMS Products, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ease the Pain of ACA Reporting Requirements

The_Affordable_Care_Act

It’s every agency’s nightmare: more, new or changing federal reporting requirements. The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, reporting requirements are in effect, and we have until the beginning of next year to determine how to effectively and accurately report a variety of health care and employee information or face penalties and excise taxes.

In order to successfully fulfill the ACA reporting requirements, it is important to understand what ACA reporting is, when it is required, what it involves, and what your software vendor is doing to assist with an easy transition. This most certainly will affect your administrative process, and the software tools and support to comply will be more important than ever. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hardware That’s Not So Hard

by: Barbara Thomas, Support Specialist and Guest Blogger for the BMS Utility Billing Team

I’m a technophobe at heart. If I even have to plug into a USB connection on my computer, my hands shake. Nonetheless, so many of us are surviving, even thriving in the workplace thanks to devices like computers and printers and digital phone lines. Consider how smartphones have changed our lifestyles and eliminated the need for maps and telephone books and such, saving space and time for us.

Thanks to technology, even more labor saving devices can be really simple to use and can enable quick and accurate data entry and free up time that can be better spent performing customer service with a smile. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, School Software, Technology, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appointed Vs. Elected Clerks: Which is Better?

ballot for elected officialRecently on our LinkedIn Group, The City Clerk Café, someone posed the question, “Which is better – elected or appointed clerks?” and asked for feedback regarding how their city clerk positions are filled and what the pros and cons are of each.

We thought this brought up a great topic of debate and would like to share with you some of the benefits we (and fellow city clerks) came up with when it comes to both types of city officials.

Pros to Appointed Clerks

No campaign garbage. When a clerk is appointed, they don’t have to spend time campaigning and rallying, so there is no election mail, campaign flyers, and yard signs to produce, procure, and assemble just to end up in the landfill someday. Read more >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Software Tools for Utility Billing Clerks’ Many Hats

Amsterdam_-_Hats_-_0931When that utility bill comes to a customer’s mailbox, it looks so simple: usage, charges, balance and due date. Perhaps it contains a message about upcoming events or holiday service schedules. But does the customer ever visualize the person who produced and touched the document they now behold?

Who is that person?

In a tiny town, it could be the same person who records the decisions made at City Council meetings, maintains the municipal budget and drives the school bus. In a larger operation, paper bills might be handed off to a mailroom clerk for processing.

Many people (or one person with mega-many hats) often contribute to the complex bundle of scheduled procedures that enable water to flow when the faucet is turned on. Read more >

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In terms of finance, what is a derivative?

Money

Derivative: It’s a confusing topic, which is why it was no surprise to see a flurry of activity on a city clerk listserv the other day when one of the clerks received a Notice of Municipal Derivatives Settlement. The answers she got were as foggy as the term.

So, what exactly is a derivative? We decided to simplify it for you using a mnemonic devise using the word “derivative.”

D – Derivative: A Derivative is a financial contract that derives its value based on the performance of another entity.

E – Entity: Entities determine the value of derivative, such as an asset, index, or interest rate. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, BMS Partners, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things Every City Clerk Should Know How to Do

Government Building

Did you know that only 8 percent of people follow through on their New Year’s Resolutions? Most have already faltered by today’s date.

We feel, however, that it’s never too late to start anew and make goals for the year. That’s why we decided to compile of list of useful advice for city clerks and utility billing clerks, inspired by conversations and comments made by the hardworking municipal clerks that we network with all year long. Check out the list below and decide where you are really making strides, and where you could do better. Start today and make your own resolution to be the best you can be in 2014! Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Partners, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Uncivil Meetings Civil Again

handshake isolated on business background

Have your civil meetings become uncivil? Do they look more like the chaotic clamor of an unsavory encounter you’d see on TV than the civilized, brief, and efficient protocol of a government dialog?

While no commission wants citizens to feel as though they don’t have a voice, if allowed to break protocol, civil meetings can quickly take a turn for the ugly. By following a few civic meeting guidelines, you can ensure that concerns and grievances are met, 1st Amendment rights are exercised, and the outcome is both productive and efficient. Tips for Civil Civic Meetings 1. Create a Process. Many elected officials and local governments have created processes for civil complaints and concerns which include: 1) having the citizen contact the department or agency directly, 2) if dissatisfied with the response, complete a written request for a response to said concern. Read more >
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