Category Archives: City Clerk Cafe

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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Will Electronic Voting Improve or Hamper an Already Fragile Process?

Tablets, phones, and mobile devices are everywhere. We use them to read, take notes, and even place orders at restaurants. Their portability and ease-of-use have helped them become a vital part of everyday processes in the private sector. And while the public sector has traditionally been slower to implement new technologies, the convenience of mobile devices has spurred government agencies into readily adopting them. The corresponding increase in efficiency and transparency has even led to public agencies incorporating mobile technology into council, board, and committee meetings; making it easier to record minutes, disperse agendas, and share information. But could the same technology be used for voting? Read more >

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Current Tax Season Scams

Tax season is now in full swing so it’s important to make sure you get a refund and not ripped off. Scammers are incredibly sneaky when it comes to exploiting people’s fears and tax-induced anxiety makes the IRS a perfect cover for shenanigans. Accordingly, we thought it beneficial to address a few common techniques (recently compiled by Infosec and reported on in the Washington Post) criminals currently employ to help ensure you know what to look out for this tax season.

Phishing

This approach is all bait—where scammers send seemingly legitimate emails that lure victims into downloading malicious software via link in order to gain access to their devices, and subsequently, their information. Read more >

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3 Ways Cities are Innovating with Technology

Cities across the United States have started to work smarter—not harder—when it comes to improving their technological infrastructure. From free public wi-fi in big cities, to high speed internet in rural areas, and a general push toward financial data transparency, many cities are finding ways to use technology to innovate within their communities.

Free Public Wi-Fi

Coastal hubs like New York City and San Francisco paved the way for free public wi-fi. However, some landlocked cities have caught up and become hubs in their own right. Kansas City, for example, began by installing wi-fi hotspots across 54 square blocks of downtown in 2015. Read more >

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Be Your Own Hero: How to navigate the journey through cyber security

Imagine you’re at your desk receipting utility payments, answering phones and helping customers. It’s Friday and you’re cruising toward the weekend. With your day already half over, you leave for lunch with a smile. But when you return something is amiss.

You log back into your workstation and the screen flickers with static. A sinister winky-face emoji slowly emerges. Beneath it a “Donate Now” button flashes insistently.

You click around. Try to restart. But your entire system is locked. All you can do is click the Donate button. When you do, horns erupt from the emoji’s forehead and an evil laugh bursts from your speakers. Read more >

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The Many Hats City Clerks Wear

To be a city clerk is to know: “Multitasking is not an option, it is a requirement.”

The days of a city clerk are filled wearing many hats and accomplishing many things—from interfacing with constituents,
to taking down meeting minutes, to crunching budget numbers. So, in honor of all the roles a city clerk takes on, we thought
we’d list some of the many titles that should come after the
“City Clerk” title.

City Clerk, Also Known As…

Community-Agency Liaison:

A city clerk is the connector between the public and the government agency, making sure constituent voices are heard and governmental decisions are made public. Read more >

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Picking Good Passwords You’ll Actually Remember

Last weekend, I had a lot of online shopping to do!

I started clicking away, filling up my shopping cart, hit checkout and…declined?

“What?” I thought to myself. I just got paid! So, in complete meltdown mode I logged into my bank account and at the top of the transaction list I spotted several pending charges, including one for $1,400 to walmart.com. My card number had been stolen and my bank account was compromised.

I always thought I did everything possible to prevent being subject of an account hack or identity theft situation. I had a six-letter password, shredded all my bills and never gave up personal information on the phone. Read more >

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