Category Archives: Latest News

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 >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities | Comments Off on Cities Are Essential

Workforce Confidence Index Poll Reflects Both Optimism and Worry

According to a recent Workforce Confidence Index poll conducted by LinkedIn, most people have an optimistic view about their ability to effectively work remotely, while a slightly smaller portion thinks their entire industry can. This is good news considering remote work is expected to stay, even as states slowly roll back economic restrictions due to COVID-19. The highest rates of optimism are found, unsurprisingly, in the software and IT sectors, followed closely by finance, media and communications. Public administration employees rank somewhere in the middle while tourism and retail bring up the rear. The results also show skepticism in other industries with an emphasis on in-person interaction, such as healthcare and manufacturing. Read more >

Posted in Latest News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Workforce Confidence Index Poll Reflects Both Optimism and Worry

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 >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology | Comments Off on The Importance of Civic Engagement Now More Than Ever

Bringing Our Best to Overcome Adversity

The world has always been crazy, but we live in truly unprecedented and uncertain times. There’s no need to beat anyone over the head with current events because it’s obvious that life is exceptionally tough for a lot of people right now. Yet, while it’s easy to focus on how bad things are or wonder how they could get worse, one thing is certain: trust is key in getting through this pandemic. Not necessarily trust in “the system”, but trust in ourselves, each other, and the tools we use to make life easier.

Amidst the chaos of the news cycle, there are a few examples of this crisis bringing out the best in the corporate world. Read more >

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Bringing Our Best to Overcome Adversity

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 >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Will Electronic Voting Improve or Hamper an Already Fragile Process?

The Problem of Advanced Artificial Intelligence

The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for decades with people pondering its philosophical implications the entire time. From the stories of Isaac Asimov in the 50s to modern television series like Westworld, humanity seems obsessed with both the potential and danger associated with sentient technology. And, unlike the prospect of flying cars, the discussion over AI is now more relevant than ever.

There are two primary camps in the debate over AI: the pessimists and optimists, which can be represented by folks like former presidential candidate Andrew Yang or MIT research scientist Lex Fridman respectively. Yang recently brought the idea of automation displacing American workers in the trucking industry into the national spotlight. Read more >

Posted in Latest News, Technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Problem of Advanced Artificial Intelligence

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 >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Tech Tips, City Clerk Cafe, Cloud Computing, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology | Comments Off on Be Your Own Hero: How to navigate the journey through cyber security

Why We Are Grateful, In Eight Words for Thanksgiving

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve gratitude.”

It’s easy to get bogged down in all that life throws at us. But fortunately, it’s even easier to be grateful. At Black Mountain Software, we are here because someone had an idea, and someone else thought it was good enough to buy. Twenty-six years later, we have a strong business with a great clientele in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And for that, today we must say, we are so grateful! Grateful for this opportunity, this industry, this location, and our customers, of course. Read more >

Posted in BMS Staff, City Clerk Cafe, Latest News | Comments Off on Why We Are Grateful, In Eight Words for Thanksgiving

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 Smile On the Other End Of the Line: Good Phone Etiquette

Have you ever heard that a smile can be heard over the phone? We have, and we believe it to be true! And that’s why this week—Customer Service Week (which falls on the first week of October this year)—is a big deal for us.

Not only is Customer Service Week the time of year to celebrate the progress we’ve made providing quality, in-house customer service, but it’s also a time for us to reflect upon the service we provide and determine how we can improve our customer engagements.

While we realize that good customer service should describe every business/customer interaction, because so much of our support comes after the installation of our products and over the phone, we thought we’d focus on one key aspect of customer service: phone etiquette. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Staff, City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Smile On the Other End Of the Line: Good Phone Etiquette

Stay Connected with Black Mountain Software

If you sign up for Black Mountain Software emails, about 4 times per year you will receive a special email designed for organizations like yours that are not already Black Mountain customers. We won’t clutter your inbox, and we will provide information relevant and helpful to you. And don’t worry, your email address is never sold or given out to third parties.

Select the Email Updates You'd Like to Receive:

Other Ways to Stay Connected:

Subscribe to the Blog Subscribe to City Clerk Cafe Connect with LinkedIn
Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Connect on YouTube