Author Archives: Jake Holley

Local Governments and Blockchain: A Match Made in Digital Heaven

Despite niche interest outside of the cryptocurrency community during its inception in 2008, blockchain technology is starting to go mainstream as local governments explore new ways to utilize the digital ledger system for improved security, efficiency, and transparency.

This is because blockchain technology offers an easy way to track and verify digital transactions. For example, each taxpayer to pay their property taxes to the county through the blockchain would have their payments logged as a unique “block” containing encrypted transaction information and timestamps. Each transactional block would also contain information referencing the block that preceded it (known as a cryptographic hash function). Read more >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology | Comments Off on Local Governments and Blockchain: A Match Made in Digital Heaven

With Cyberattacks Still on the Rise, Security Solutions Abound for Utility Districts

With a recent report from the FBI showing a 69% increase in cybercrime between 2019 and 2020, it should come as no surprise that such attacks cost US governmental entities just shy of $19 million last year. Most worrisome is that these attacks have not only increased in frequency but in intensity as well, targeting vital aspects of American infrastructure—from oil companies to police departments. Perhaps one of most concerning instances, and one that seemed to fly under the radar, is the water plant that was hacked in Oldsmar, FL back in February.

Hackers managed to find a way to exploit a remote-access loophole that allowed them to increase the amount of lye (used to manage pH levels) fed into the water system. Read more >

Posted in BMS Products, Cloud Computing, Latest News, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on With Cyberattacks Still on the Rise, Security Solutions Abound for Utility Districts

More Funding for Infrastructure Means Broadband, Water/Sewer Improvements and Jobs

With the American Rescue Plan Act that passed in March, the Treasury Department has begun to set aside $350 billion in emergency funds for qualifying states, local and tribal governments. Among other things, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used to support public health costs, ameliorate the negative socio-economic effects of the past year, and perhaps most importantly, invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

Broadband infrastructure investments are particularly timely after a year that saw dramatic increases in both remote work and overall data usage. According to American City & County, over 30 million Americans currently do not have access to high-speed internet, especially in rural areas. Read more >

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Schedule, Manage, and Track Better Than Ever

Issuing and tracking permits, as well as scheduling inspections, are integral parts of a city’s ability to enforce municipal codes and ensure construction is completed according to current safety standards. Without these regulations, our cities would be a mess, which is why we offer a robust and fully integrated permitting application to assist in performing this vital process.

Black Mountain Software’s Permitting is a standalone application that makes it easy to maintain detailed property information. Once a property is added, permits can be issued according to local zoning ordinances, which includes automated fee calculation to save your entity and employees valuable time. Read more >

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Make Ordering Forms Less Taxing with RMPS

Forms are the norm with 1099s, W2s, 1095s, and utility bills to boot! But now, you can get them all from one reliable, trusted supplier.

Our partners over at Rocky Mountain Print Solutions (RMPS) produce and deliver BMS-formatted forms that integrate perfectly with Black Mountain Software. This partnership ensures your form printing is accurate and improves your mailing success. RMPS also allows you to consolidate your form and printer supply needs to a single vendor with convenient online ordering, great prices, and fast delivery.

Rocky Mountain Print Solutions for BMS clients are great because:

  • BMS integrated pre-formatted forms cut down on time
  • Pricing is very competitive
  • The product is high-quality
  • Ordering is done online
  • Form accuracy is guaranteed
  • Shipping is fast and free on orders over $100
  • Forms and cards are formatted to efficiently and seamlessly work with the Black Mountain Software interface

To further maximize your efficiency, RMPS can also meet your Utility Billing needs – either for standard letter or post card bills – at incredibly reasonable prices. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Partners, BMS Products, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Make Ordering Forms Less Taxing with RMPS

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Year-End Financial Statements

Anyone that has ever worked with year-end financial statements knows that a thorough review to ensure accuracy and accountability is vital. With so many items and numbers to scour, it’s a daunting and overwhelming task. But, to help with the year-end financial report blues, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes found on financial statements so you can know what to look for ahead of time.

Overlooked Expense Line Items

Sometimes, even large expenditures can be overlooked. These expenses can include everything from salaries and benefits, costs to provide services, to office supplies and other operating expenses. A quick once-over and comparison to estimated expenses on the budget can help guarantee that an expense has not been miscategorized. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, Small Cities | Comments Off on Common Mistakes to Avoid with Year-End Financial Statements

Evolving Cyberthreats Lead to Evolved Cybersecurity

With more people working from home, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Threat actors are becoming increasingly bold in their attacks and ransomware continues to be the preferred method of infiltration. Cybersecurity experts, however, are also adapting with the times by focusing on a previously overlooked aspect of ransomware attacks: dwell time.

According to cybersecurity news outlet Dark Reading, “dwell time” refers to “the length of time an interloper remains undetected inside the network.” They note that traditionally, ransomware attacks operate under “smash-and-grab” tactics. Where, once downloaded, malicious files attempt to encrypt as many files and workstations as possible. Now, though, these files are lingering, allowing operators to lurk in the shadows of a targeted network, studying how it operates and identifying valuable resources to exploit or hijack for bigger payoffs. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Tech Tips, Latest News | Comments Off on Evolving Cyberthreats Lead to Evolved Cybersecurity

Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

The latest trend in government is all about transparency—and the embrace of innovative technology by government is making it easier than ever to provide transparency simply, efficiently, and accurately.

It can, however, leave your agency exposed to the public, and they may have questions when looking at your budget and books. In this scenario, a good audit trail is essential because it can save your agency time, preserve its reputation, and minimize errors.

The concept is simple: changes to accounting records should be documented and saved for future reference. Software, such as the governmental accounting software offered by BMS, makes this process straightforward. An audit trail will help you log, maintain, and monitor your accounting processes to protect yourself and your agency from fraud, fines for non-compliance, and potential funding issues. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities | Comments Off on Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

American City & County magazine recently published an article detailing the misadventures of Jackson, Mississippi’s attempt to upgrade their water meter and billing systems after signing a contract with Siemens, Inc. The contract (signed in December of 2012) was supposed to generate 120 million dollars in guaranteed savings. However, incorrectly installed water meters and syncing issues with the city’s wireless networks led to residential customers being heavily overcharged while some industrial customers never even received a bill. The city’s attempts to rectify these problems led to increased operating costs and no savings, despite Siemen’s guarantee.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Jackson sued Siemens and local subcontractors over the debacle. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, Latest News, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

Schools Are Essential, Too

Despite the myriad of challenges that have arose in this doozy of a year, there have been a few net positives that have come along with it. Many essential services have remained functional or quickly adapted thanks to technological advances and the ease of remote work. Groups like the NLC have been lobbying for better municipal funding to improve existing local infrastructure, and long overdue conversations regarding policing and broader criminal justice reforms have become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the way in which many schools have used the summer to come up with new ways to educate children and keep them safe at the same time. Read more >

Posted in Back to School Tips, Latest News, School Software | Comments Off on Schools Are Essential, Too

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