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Digital Government Strategies that Lower the Cost of Revenue Management

For the City of Vestavia Hills, in Alabama, effectively using data was key to navigating the challenges presented by the pandemic.

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In this episode, we talked with Jeff Downes, City Manager of Vestavia Hills. We covered:

  • The challenges faced with providing more with less
  • How their team leverages technology to provide better revenue management
  • How Vestavia Hills dealt with the declining revenue, and increasing operational costs faced by localities.
  • Utilizing different data sources to glean insight in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Some of the most surprising trends to come out of the pandemic, and what changes may be permanent

This discussion was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

CASE STUDY: Improve Your Budget & Operation Outlook

How the City of Florence Maximized Compliance, Grew Revenues & Streamlined Tax Administration.

Revenue management has always been a top priority for local governments. Tax revenues come from a variety of sources, including business licensing fees, sales taxes, property taxes, and more. Managing all of these disparate sources of tax revenue is a big task and a huge responsibility, especially when effective revenue management can make the difference between a balanced budget and a budgeting crisis.

But the coronavirus pandemic has made revenue management even more important than before. The pandemic has dramatically impacted tax revenues, and many state and local governments are struggling to adapt to the changing tax landscape that COVID-19 has created. Previously reliable sources of tax income are drying up, while new revenue sources derived from digital businesses and technologies are emerging in real time.

To manage their revenue streams effectively, governments need datadriven, cost-efficient, and streamlined technologies to maximize tax compliance and ensure they get the tax revenue that is owed to them.

Bob Leyde, City Clerk for the City of Florence, Alabama, knows the importance of effective revenue management and a partnership with Avenu has enabled the city to take advantage of cutting-edge technology that has streamlined tax administration and provided deep insight into areas of non-compliance.

Together, we were able to develop a solution to help Florence meet these challenges. Bob Leyde, City Clerk for the City of Florence, Alabama summarized the results when he stated, “Our partnership with Avenu has brought the city well over $3 million dollars of additional revenue that allowed us to provide needed services to our citizens.”

Learn how a combination of our solutions were able to create incredible results for this city.

Florence, Alabama

Avenu Delivers Newly Preserved Books to Tallapoosa Alabama

Buying a home? Having a boundary dispute? Building a structure on your land?

Chances are you will need a plat map, also known as a plat which shows you how a tract of land is divided into lots in your county. It is drawn to scale and records the land’s size, boundary locations, nearby streets, flood zones, and any easements or rights of way.

Most homeowners receive a copy of their plat when buying a home. Tallapoosa County Alabama commissioned Avenu to preserve some books of plat maps, some of which dated back to the 1800s. Avenu’s Book Recreation Services were performed in our Mandeville, LA location to recreate these plat books and safeguard against further deterioration from handling the maps.

A picture is certainly worth a thousand words in this case, and if you look below you will see the before and after photos for Tallapoosa’s books.

“Tallapoosa’s plat books were falling apart. It was important to them to preserve the history of changes that have occurred, and they are beyond thrilled with the finished product,” shared Yolanda Watkins, Client Sales Executive. Yolanda also recently worked with the City of Mobile Alabama who is underway with a large preservation project. Avenu is preserving over 28 books that contain council minutes, and governance and historical documents for Mobile.

 

Dating back to the 1800s, here is a before and after glimpse of Tallapoosa County’s plat map books following Avenu’s recreation services.

 

City of Birmingham Partners with Avenu Insights & Analytics to Bring Online Portal for Business License and Tax Administration

CENTREVILLE, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The City of Birmingham partnered with Avenu Insights & Analytics (Avenu) to launch online filing as a new way to file for the 2020 business license tax season. Businesses will submit and pay their business license renewals online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week versus having to either pay in person at City Hall or having to mail renewals. Businesses will also be able to submit payment via ACH Debit (checking or savings) or credit card.

An equally great benefit of filing online is that business owners will not have to worry about overlooking required information or miscalculations. Each business will have a unique access code for a customized experience and the online form will pre-populate basic business information and load the renewal license categories on file for each business. The online filing system will automatically calculate the license taxes due based on the gross receipts (or other required amounts) entered by the business, saving business owners time and providing confidence that they have filed correctly.

Avenu CEO, Paul Colangelo, stated, “The partnership with Birmingham is personal for Avenu’s Tax Administration team, who is located in Birmingham. The services and support that our office will provide, in addition to the opportunity to secure and find additional revenue for the City that we live, work and play in adds a higher level of responsibility. We are personally invested in the strategic plan for this City and excited to be a part its continued success.”

“One of our core values is customer service and this goes directly to that commitment,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “Online filing adds tremendous convenience to our businessowners, which saves them valuable time and streamlines the process. Partnering with a local company who has a vested interest in our community is an added benefit as well.”

About the City of Birmingham

The City of Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest city in the State of Alabama, with a population currently estimated at 212,237, and a metro population of 1,136,650. Birmingham is a beautiful diverse city nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. At the height of the nation’s manufacturing age, the city grew so fast in population, it was called the “Magic City.” Today, Birmingham has transformed itself into a medical research, banking and service-based economy, making it one of the nation’s most livable cities with a vibrant downtown, flourishing loft community, a world-class awarded culinary scene, thriving and diverse neighborhoods and more green space per capita than any other city in the nation! To learn more, visit the City’s website at www.birminghamal.gov.

About Avenu Insights & Analytics

Over 3,000 state and local governments have partnered with Avenu to boost revenue, optimize operations, and deepen community trust. Avenu provides revenue enhancement and administrative solutions that uncover new sources of untapped revenue and deliver software that streamlines day-to-day operations. State and local governments partner with Avenu to increase revenue without raising taxes, streamline internal operations, and improve services by enhancing connectivity for constituents. Avenu is a portfolio company of Mill Point Capital. To learn more, visit www.avenuinsights.com.

Press release from the City of Birmingham available here.

Contacts

Corinne Aycock, Avenu Marketing Manager, (703) 863-1366

Governments in Alabama and Georgia Sign Up for Revenue Enhancement with Avenu

Local governments increasingly seek private-sector solutions when it comes to administering revenue programs, as the Avenu client roster shows.

Elmore County in Alabama has agreed to use Avenu for processing revenue for sales and use taxes, while in Georgia, Floyd County has engaged Avenu to audit its hotels and increase compliance with the requirements of the county ordinance. Avenu also will support Georgia’s City of South Fulton with compliance audits of its business license and alcohol taxes.

As pressure builds for jurisdictions to fund services without raising taxes, programs like these help by increasing the amount of taxes already owed and ensuring the fairness of the tax system.

Avenu’s Jonathan Gerth Shows Alabama how to Get the Most out of Its Sales Tax

Avenu’s Vice President of Tax and Auditing Services, Jonathan Gerth, is bringing his expertise to Opelika, AL on Aug. 15 for a one-day business workshop in partnership with the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. Titled “Everything You Want to Know About the Collection of Sales Tax in the City of Opelika,” the one hour seminar is designed to educate local chamber members and potential chamber members on topics such as municipal business licenses requirements, how municipalities apply rental taxes, and the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding sales & use tax. Interested parties are encouraged to register online. Registration is $10 for Chamber members and $15 for prospective members. Lunch will be provided.

Avenu Attends AMROA’s Summer Conference

Avenu’s friends in the South may have spotted the Avenu booth at the 50th annual Alabama Municipal Revenue Officers Association (AMROA) Summer Conference at The Westin, Birmingham this week. A dedicated partner to revenue administrators around the country, Avenu is thrilled to be a Silver Sponsor of the event and support the professionals who help ensure their municipalities are fiscally secure.

Avenu Business Development Executive Yolanda Watkins Bailey was on site throughout the event, answering questions, introducing Avenu’s tools and services, and listening to agencies needs and concerns when it comes to their financial matters.

“I love getting to meet Alabama’s municipal finance officers face to face and learning what helps them succeed. Avenu has such great resources available and I very much enjoy when we can show that to a local audience.”

If you missed Yolanda this week, feel free to reach out to her with any questions about Avenu or its services at ywatkins@avenuinsights.com.

Avenu sponsors ACCMA Summer Conference

Avenu (formerly known as Revenue Discovery Services/RDS in Alabama) continues its leadership role in the state as a sponsor the Alabama City County Management Association Summer Conference, June 6-8 in Orange Beach.

As silver sponsors of the ACCMA event, Avenu will be co-hosting the Summer Social on Thursday evening. In addition, team members will be on hand at the Avenu booth to discuss your city’s or county’s particular revenue enhancement or administration challenges.

Perry Brasfield, Avenu Client Executive

Yolanda Watkins,  Business Development Executive

Avenu’s Yolanda Watkins Bailey, Perry Brasfield, Audrey Freemen and Randy Godeke will be present to answer any and all questions pertaining to:

  • Sales and use tax
  • Franchise fees
  • Property tax
  • Hotel and short-term rental taxes

“Avenu is committed to helping agencies in Alabama get the most out of their revenue. I look forward to meeting with local government leaders this week to work toward making a positive impact on our great state,” Watkins says.

Avenu Supports Alabama Municipalities Conference

Avenu (formerly known as Revenue Discovery Services/RDS in Alabama) is sponsoring the 2018 Alabama League of Municipalities Annual Conference, May 19-22 in Montgomery.

Yolanda Watkins, Business Development Executive

Perry Brasfield, Client Executive

Look for these Avenu team members: Yolanda Watkins Bailey, Perry Brasfield, Audrey Freeman and Randy Godeke. They will be in the Avenu booth #519 – stop by to discuss your city’s particular challenges regarding compliance and processing of:

  • Sales and use tax
  • Franchise fees
  • Property tax
  • Hotel and short-term rental taxes

Avenu is also a Flagstone sponsor of the conference, reflecting its ongoing dedication to helping Alabama’s municipalities thrive. Avenu has been helping cities maximize revenue for more than 35 years, and this is the 24th year Avenu has attended the Municipal League of Alabama Annual Conference.

Avenu Expands Team in Alabama

Avenu has welcomed Audrey Freeman to the team as the company’s newest Client Executive. In her new role, Audrey will work directly with government leaders to grow and maximize local revenue for cities and counties in northern Alabama. With prior roles in governmental technology solutions, Audrey has a history of developing and maintaining strong client relationships. She brings a knowledge of the region as well as impactful consulting skills that will allow her to assist local governments in maximizing their revenue base.

“Growing up in Alabama, I’ve seen how important the local government is to the health of our communities. I’m excited to be working in the state I grew up in and helping its cities succeed,” said Audrey.

Learn more about Audrey on LinkedIn, or contact her directly at audrey.freeman@avenuinsights.com.