Category Archives: BMS Products

Financial Data Transparency: Build Better Taxpayer Trust and Confidence

A recent Gallup poll shows Congressional approval at an unprecedented historical low of seventeen percent. There’s an endless amount of reasons one could posit as to why that is the case—political dysfunction, legislative gridlock, corruption, a lack of transparency, and virtually everything in between—but regardless, the level of distrust in governmental institutions is growing and even trickling down to the state and local level, which is frustrating for both elected representatives and their constituents.

Before we all sharpen our pitchforks, fire up the torches and start a revolution, though, there is a silver lining worthy of note: a growing trend of public institutions willing to share their financial data with the citizens they serve and a panoply of technological options to do so. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, Small Cities | Comments Off on Financial Data Transparency: Build Better Taxpayer Trust and Confidence

New Year Dictionary of Governmental Budget and Accounting Terms

Has your EOY caused your prior-year encumbrances and expenditures to deplete your reserves, or were you in the black because those expenditures were WRTFY?

If all this budget and accounting talk has your head spinning, we’re going to lighten it up with some Happy New Year Vocabulary, courtesy of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.

So if you don’t know your program budget from your appropriations, give them a quick once-over with a New Year Review of Governmental Budget and Accounting Terms.

NEW YEAR DICTIONARY OF ACCOUNTING & BUDGET TERMS

H – Hourly (or Non-Exempt)
An employee who fills a temporary or short-term position. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, School Software | Comments Off on New Year Dictionary of Governmental Budget and Accounting Terms

Helping You Adapt to Change

The only thing that’s constant is change.

Regulations change, reporting requirements change, and technology changes, too. Within the past few years, we’ve seen a number of reporting requirements change–from the Montana Public Retirement System to Federal Affordable Care Act reporting. These changes are frustrating for clients. It means new reports, more data entry and a system to check for errors. But we are determined to ease that pain, to the best of our ability, by creating add-ons to our software and updating our systems whenever there are new mandated compliance requirements for our clients.

How BMS Software Eases the Pain of Changing Compliance Requirements

  • US-based support.
  • Read more >
    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Staff, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Government Accounting Standards, School Software, Small Cities, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Helping You Adapt to Change

    USDA Allocates $4B for Grants and Low-Cost Loans

    Given that we specialize in Utility Billing software and many of our clients live in small, rural areas, we are excited to report that the United States Department of Agriculture has set aside four billion dollars for grants and low-cost loans to improve rural water infrastructure.

    The program aims to provide funding for drinking water systems, sewage/solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage for qualified households and businesses in eligible areas, which include most state and local government entities in towns with populations of ten thousand or less, private nonprofits, and federally-recognized Tribal organizations in rural areas.

    Applications can be filled out online via the RD Apply tool or through a local USDA Rural Development state field office. Read more >

    Posted in BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Comments Off on USDA Allocates $4B for Grants and Low-Cost Loans

    The Importance of City Permitting and How BMS Can Help

    Permitting is an important and necessary process for cities and towns that controls and regulates construction to ensure that all work is done according to municipal code. It can be a long and arduous process for both the applicant and the municipality, but it is necessary to sustain the economic interests, safety, and growth of any community.

    Why City Permitting is Important:

    • Permitting regulates and controls construction to ensure work meets codes and city ordinances
    • Permitting helps ensure work has been done safely and inspected (if required)
    • Permitting helps enforce safety, convenience, and aesthetic standards for the city
    • Aids in establishing and maintaining property information
    • Helps enforce zoning laws
    • Permitting protects residential and commercial property value
    • Permitting helps track growth and plan for future development of land, utilities, and public services

    Though this process is generally a tedious one, Black Mountain Software offers a Permitting module designed to assist and streamline your city’s efforts. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Small Cities, Technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Importance of City Permitting and How BMS Can Help

    Don’t Bury Your Head In The Sand Over Cemetery Management

    It’s one of those things you never think about until it’s too late: cemetery management.

    Often, clients don’t see the need for it until it’s a problem: a plot sold that is not available, a record that needs to be found, or an error that’s been discovered. These mishaps can be tragic for those who assume their family’s generations-worth of  plot records will be properly managed and recorded.

    Poor plot management plagues the cemetery industry. Cash-strapped agencies with mismanaged funds have led to a litany of instances regarding incorrect or incomplete recordkeeping, making sacred ground more akin to a battleground. And, if that weren’t enough, these issues are not usually addressed until long after a problem is discovered. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, Small Cities, Technology | Comments Off on Don’t Bury Your Head In The Sand Over Cemetery Management

    Onsite Data Storage Can Mean Big Risks

    Natural Disasters. Hackers. Malfunctions. Disgruntled Employees.

    These are just a few of the things that could lead to a data disaster and put your agency at risk of being unable to recover sensitive and necessary information.

    Our data can feel safe, locked away and backed up on a server. But there are still plenty of risks that can be avoided by moving data to the Cloud. That’s because with the Cloud, there is no one single place the data is stored, making it less vulnerable to the following risks.

    Risk Factors to Data

    Natural Disasters

    In the event of a natural disaster, any data stored on a stand-alone computer or server is vulnerable to loss. Read more >

    Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Onsite Data Storage Can Mean Big Risks

    A Story of a Shovel and a Backhoe

    We have a funny little saying we like to use here at Black Mountain Software: “Don’t use a shovel when you really need a backhoe.”

    If you are asking yourself what that means, let us elaborate.

    Shovels are great. They can get the job done, and require very little knowledge or education to use.  But, if you’re trying to dig a swimming pool, you will quickly find that it’s just not enough compared to the scale of the project.

    Software, too, can be inadequate to complete the tasks needed for a city, school, utility or municipality efficiently. Often, we find that clients seeking new software are using a shovel, when what they really need is a backhoe. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Technology | Comments Off on A Story of a Shovel and a Backhoe

    What To Do If You’re Getting the Paperless Pushback

    Paperless Pushback-rev02The idea of going paperless is pretty revolutionary. It cuts down on waste, saves trees, is easier to organize, is easier to find, and creates a searchable document. It has been a topic of much discussion on our LinkedIn Group, The City Clerk Café, which is flooded with tips for successful implementation. So, why then, is there still pushback on going the paperless route?

    Change takes time, and generations of individuals who have been working with paper for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years have a hard time exchanging a physical piece of paper for a virtual document. In addition, the prep work of scanning, storing, and organizing paperless information can be overwhelming to some. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Technology, Utility Billing | Comments Off on What To Do If You’re Getting the Paperless Pushback

    Different Ways Local Governments Are Utilizing The Cloud

    Different Ways Local Governments Are Utilizing The CloudCloud computing usage by government agencies is on the “rise”, and that’s not just because of its name. While many agencies were hesitant to embrace the cloud in its early years due to security concerns, in recent years, cloud security has become as secure, and in many cases more secure, than on-premise solutions. That’s because a single-site back up is vulnerable to natural disasters and cyber attacks, where cloud-based data back ups are stored in numerous locations.
    In addition, with the influx of big data, data storage, and around the clock upgrades, cloud services are becoming more relevant for government agencies than ever before, increasing security, efficiency, and unlimited data storage. Read more >

    Posted in Best Practices, BMS Products, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Office Efficiency, Technology | Comments Off on Different Ways Local Governments Are Utilizing The Cloud

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