Tag Archives: Small Towns

Guidelines for Government Gift Giving

‘Twidth="300"is the season of yuletide, carols, and…regulated gift giving?

It might seem like there’s a tiny heart “two sizes too small” in the office of Government Compliance and Ethics when it comes to gift giving guidelines set for government officials. However, these policies exist to prevent the potential of a token of appreciation becoming an incentive, bribe, or obligation.

That’s not to say you can’t show appreciation for your fellow government officials and coworkers; gift giving is perfectly acceptable as long as the laws, regulations and gift giving guidelines are followed.

The basic theory behind government gift giving is this: if it can be conceived as a bribe, or sway a government official to make a particular decision, it’s ILLEGAL. Read more >

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

What is Cloud, in Five Letters

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How can five letters leave you so confused, like your head’s in the clouds? Well, when you’re talking about something that you can’t see, is indeterminable in size, and exists “in the clouds,” it’s understandable why people are confused by it. So, we’ve broken down the cloud in five letters:
C, L, O, U, D.

An Explanation of the Cloud in Five Letters (CLOUD)

C – Computing. Cloud, or more formally known as “cloud computing,” is the practice of using a network of remote servers, “the cloud,” to store, manage, and/or process data rather than on a local network server or a personal computer’s hard drive. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Partners, BMS Products, Cloud Computing, Small Cities, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Town Stories: Joliet, MT

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Shane Ridge Preserve

Over the years, we’ve written about many small towns that Black Mountain Software serves. Though this town is quite typical in many ways to other towns we’ve featured, it has one outstanding characteristic: it is the smallest in landmass, reaching only .29 square miles!

Within its tiny footprint and population hovering around 650 people, it’s surprising to find that Joliet has had a few notable historical residents that have called Joliet home. The first is former Montana State Senator Chet Blaylock who ran for Governor of Montana. Second, is Jack Waddell, test pilot for the Boeing 747 maiden flight in 1969. Read more >

Posted in BMS Partners, Small Cities | 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

The Dreaded Rate Increase – How Can Your Team Better Deal With Customer Fallout?

As the two most dreaded words for a utility billing professional, “rate increase” stands as a polarizing and frustrating situation for both the customers and the front-line city workers. With the changing economy, our cities, towns, and municipalities face the struggle to provide the most affordable services to the public, while also maintaining the best equipment, standards and practices. However, we also must realize that, despite economic recovery, many of our customers still feel misplaced resentment toward any entity that they perceive as adding to the conundrum of their rapidly decreasing take-home pay. While rate increases are inevitable for long-term service quality, your team also needs an action plan to best address customer concerns and frustrations. Read more >

Posted in Small Cities, Uncategorized, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Towns and City Clerks—The Unique Challenges You Face When Everybody Knows Everybody

We’ve all heard the saying that life is just different in a small town. It seems to move at a more leisurely pace, and places emphasis on the community as a whole. Everyone knows everyone, and even everyday business interactions are peppered with social connections. These qualities are what give small towns their charm.

For city clerks, however, managing their duties within a smaller community sometimes comes with a unique set of challenges. Here are the common high-maintenance customers you may see throughout your week:

  • The “My Way” Customer—These are those tough residents who never seem to pay on time, always question their bills, and generally make you feel like you are pulling teeth with every interaction.
Read more >
Posted in Office Efficiency, Small Cities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Mountain Software Teams Up to Clean Up! Green Up!

In conjunction with the Polson Chamber of Commerce and The Beautification Committee of Envision Polson, Black Mountain Software contributed to the annual Clean Up! Green Up! event on Friday, April 24.

The first step to having a beautiful, welcoming community that we are all proud of is to have it trash free. Black Mountain Software ‘Green Team’ volunteers spent their Friday evening picking up trash along a two mile stretch of the Polson walking path from O’Reilly Auto Parts to Mission Valley Auto.

Both Black Mountain Software offices are located in beautiful, picturesque Montana regions. Conserving, reusing, recycling, and being mindful of our environment and planet are everyday practices at Black Mountain Software. Read more >

Posted in BMS Events, BMS Partners, BMS Staff, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Town Stories: Lucerne, Wyoming

Hot Spring outside of Lucerne

We love small towns! Why, you may ask? Well, working with small towns allows us to really get to know our customers personally to understand their special needs. For example, when Utility Billing Clerk Taylor Smalley from the town of Lucerne, Wyoming, called us needing a cloud-based solution for their utility billing operations so she could work from home and tend to her cattle, we thought, “we can relate to that and it’s exactly why we are in the business of small town software!”

Cattle tending is just part of Taylor’s life in Lucerne, a town of 535 residents. Read more >

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

Small Town Stories: McRae, Georgia

McRae Monument: A mini Statue of Liberty

McRae Monument: A mini Statue of Liberty

Recently, we found out some exciting ­news: The cities of McRae and Helena, Georgia (sister cities) are merging January 1, 2015, and have chosen Black Mountain Software as their software partner.

While Helena has long been a BMS customer, we are just now getting acquainted with the tidy little town of McRae! We expect to get to know them very well in the upcoming months, as a city merger is no “little” thing no matter what size the town.

The combining of cities means the combining of everything they do and every process they have into one “new” city: utility billing, property tax collection, bank accounts, even the stationary heading! Read more >

Posted in BMS Partners, Customer Spotlight, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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