Category Archives: City Clerk Cafe

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 >

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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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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 >

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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 >

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Big Data for Small Cities

US House Passes Moving Forward Act in a Bid to Improve Local Broadband Infrastructure

As a part of their Rebuild With Us campaign, the National League of Cities (NLC) announced that the US House of Representatives recently passed the Moving Forward Act, a bill designed to increase federal investment in broadband infrastructure on a municipal level. While the bill also includes investments in public safety, broadband consumer protections, affordability and digital equity, there is a significant focus on new provisions to help smaller cities that might be struggling. These provisions include building new or updating existing broadband infrastructure, allowing more flexibility when it comes to investing in local broadband, and prioritizing connectivity for rural areas. Read more >

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The Purpose of Governmental Budgeting

The budget preparation process is an opportunity for an agency to collaboratively set and meet financial goals. So what may seem like a bunch of never-ending numbers on a spreadsheet is actually much more: a plan of action for the future of both the agency and the community it serves.

Since many of our clients are actively participating in preliminary budget preparation right now, we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the four goals of the budget process to highlight why it is so important.

The Four Goals of the Budget Preparation Process

1. Establish Goals to Guide Future Decision Making

The first step of budget preparation is to create a set of budgetary goals. Read more >

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Cities Are Essential

According to the National League of Cities (NLC), despite the massive spending bills passed by Congress designed to aid states in battling the coronavirus outbreak, “there has been no direct aid provided to the majority of cities, towns and villages.” This is particularly concerning considering that the frontline for subduing the effects of the virus occurs primarily at the local level.

While businesses are beginning to reopen across the nation after a long shut down, local governments have continued to provide essential services because, as James Inman, City Manager for Bessemer City, NC notes in Southern City Magazine, “the water has to flow.”

Things might seem like they are getting back to normal, but the economic impact of coronavirus shutdowns cannot be understated for local governments. Read more >

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How to Effectively Work from Home

While opportunities for telecommuting and remote work have become more prominent within the tech sector over the last few years, working from home is now a reality for many. This digital reinvention of the workplace can be a jarring transition from regular office life, but it doesn’t have to be.  

Unlike in Japan, most American tech workers are uniquely positioned, both logistically and culturally, to easily work from home due to increases in the availability of cloud technology and access to home Wi-Fi and personal computers. Efficiency, however, can be an issue. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to keep efficiency high or even increase it. Read more >

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The Importance of Civic Engagement Now More Than Ever

According to the National Research Center (NRC), data collected by the National Community Survey over the last 15 years shows that nearly 80% of residents expect their governments to provide opportunities for community engagement. But with most government offices closed and employees working from home due to the spread of COVID-19 and the adoption of social distancing guidelines, attending a board meeting or town hall is virtually impossible. The timing couldn’t be worse either since civic engagement is now more crucial than ever. As Senior Vice President of Innovation at Polco, Michelle Kobayashi, tells the NRC: “finding ways to connect with people when they are socially isolated…gives people a sense of empowerment…a sense of things they can do to make them feel like they have some control over the situation.”

Luckily, 90% of American adults are active online and the amount of public sector organizations using online tools to gather feedback is on the rise. Read more >

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