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How Florence, Alabama Found Millions in Sales Tax Revenue

With just over 40,000 residents, Florence is Alabama’s 11th largest city. Home to the University of North Alabama, this vibrant and welcoming town also hosts the state’s most popular renaissance festival, held annually each October.

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Bob Leyde, beloved City Clerk for the City of Florence, Alabama, is a pillar of the local community as well as a talented and innovative administrator. He wisely utilized Avenu’s vast capabilities to generate up-to-the-minute analytics for more accurate projections of sales tax revenue during the COVID pandemic and increase the efficiency of his administration staff.
Here’s a sneak peek:
  • Detailed reporting helped Bob overcome budgeting challenges and increase compliance.
  • Accurate and real-time information about current business opportunities and revenue collection is crucial to his decision-making process.
  • Avenu streamlined the city’s tax administration with a laser-focused audit process.
  • Bob encourages leaders of cities of any size to see how Avenu’s technology can optimize operations and maximize revenue generation.

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.

COVID-19 Impact on City of Pasadena, CA

COVID tested localities in new in challenging ways. While we are coming out of the pandemic, we can learn from different jurisdictions as we prepare for the future.

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Matt Hawkesworth, Finance Director for the City of Pasadena, CA about the different areas of impact COVID-19 has had on the City and how his team has shifted priorities to help balance ever increasing budget deficits.

In this show we discuss:

  • Top areas the City of Pasadena was affected over the past 12-18 months
  • The approach to using reserves during the process
  • The impact of restaurant closures in a city with one of the largest number per capita
  • The American Rescue Plan
  • The importance of resiliency

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.

Local Governments Today Have an Opportunity to Build Trust: Smarter Digital Transformation is Key

When government doesn’t deliver the same level of digital services citizens have come to expect from their private-sector interactions, they lose an opportunity to build trust in their communities.

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In this episode, we talk with Lou Schiavone, Chief Customer Officer at Avenu Insights and Analytics. For the past 20 years, he has focused on serving state and local governments nationwide, leading the sales, development and delivery of a diverse set of innovative solutions. Our discussion delves into:

  • How governments can instill trust in their communities through digital transformation
  • Government’s overreliance on paper driven processes
  • Tax collection processes that are efficient, digitized, and automated
  • Ways government can improve communication and build trust
  • Key takeaways for government leaders looking to instill trust in their community

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.

How Local Governments Can Navigate Budget Shortfalls

Local governments are working harder than ever over the last year to manage budget shortfalls. Changes in revenue can impact key services for the community. Accurate forecasting and revenue maximization is key during these uncertain times.

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In this episode, we talk with Paul Colangelo, the CEO of Avenu Insights and Analytics. He brings a wealth of experience to the conversation having over two decades of experience working with local governments. Our discussion delves into:

  • Untapped revenue for local governments during the economic downturn
  • Conducting a business license discovery and recovery review and how it helps with revenue enhancement
  • Preparing for fluctuations in revenue streams as the economy recovers
  • The long term impacts of the COVID pandemic.

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.

How Digital Technology is Giving Old Documents New Life

For local governments, moving beyond fear of digitalization is essential to making their products and services more accessible for constituents.

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In this episode, I talk with Alfredo Frauenfelder, Client Executive at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about how digital technology can give old documents new life and what that process looks like for local governments.

What we discussed:

  • Why preservation of documentation for future generations is critical
  • How to capture, store, and publish handwritten documents
  • The current state of historical documents for most governments
  • What challenges Local Governments face starting these projects
  • How digitalization can actually pay for itself over time

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.

Budgeting Sales Tax Revenue

Local governments can fine-tune their budget forecasts by understanding the tremendous impacts that and state and federal programs have had on Sales Tax Revenue over the past year.

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In this episode, we talk with Mark Bryson, Senior Economic Analyst at Avenu, who works with California jurisdictions and is an expert in helping them navigate the changes COVID has brought to revenue forecasts. Our discussion delves into:

  • Key concepts relevant to understanding and properly budgeting for future Sales Tax Revenues
  • Why these basic Sales Tax concepts are important to the budgeting process
  • 5 things that occurred in California that have never happened before that impact Sales Tax Revenue
  • What jurisdictions throughout the country should be thinking about when they are budgeting Sales Tax Revenue these days

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.

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.

Webinar: Digital Government Strategies that Lower the Cost of Revenue Management

As the demand for government services increases, maximizing revenue is even more critical. Avenu’s Tax & License Administration and software solutions can help your government get ahead of day-to-day operations while reducing long-term costs.Jeff Downes, the City Manager of Vestavia Hills, Alabama joins us to share how our partnership helped them recover $1.6 million.

Avenu processes more than $1 billion a year in taxes and fees for local governments. We look forward to partnering with your jurisdiction.

CLICK HERE to view the presentation.

Municipalities Can’t Tax Internet Providers, Except When They Can

Mention the word “landline” to modern consumers, and you’ll likely get the same quizzical look as if you’d said “rotary phone.” As consumers shift almost uniformly to mobile phones and larger organizations rely on cable connections instead of DSL for their office “landlines,” the local income associated with telecom franchise fees has nosedived. Adding to the complexity of the revenue issue is the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) of 1998, which prohibits taxing internet usage – so, even though telecommunications companies are utilizing locally-owned phone lines to provide broadband internet access to residents, localities can no longer tax the services being provided like they used to.

However, creative minds have been working to find ways that accommodate the various federal statutes while still increasing revenue for local governments. In recent months, cities have started to pass legislation allowing localities to tax internet providers directly for using city right–of-ways (ROWs). It’s a highly technical loophole, but with broadband being at the forefront of the next major tax revolution, its one that your municipality may want to consider – and soon.

Read the full story by Avenu’s Jonathan Gerth at Efficient Gov.

Jonathan Gerth, Esq., is vice president of compliance auditing for Avenu Insights & Analytics. Contact him at Jonathan.Gerth@avenuinsights.com.

The U.S. Supreme Court and Online Sales Tax: What the Wayfair Decision Means as of Today

On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that internet retailers can be required to collect online sales tax, even in states where they have no physical presence. The landmark decision, South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Inc., reverses a 1992 ruling and can result in a greater revenue source for state and local governments. As explained in this free Avenu webinar held right after the ruling, there are still uncertainties that need to be worked out. Below are highlights from the presentation that inform local government leadership about online sales tax, its revenue potential and what must or may happen before those funds are realized.

It’s been estimated that state and local governments lose nearly $13 billion per year.

Consumers are increasingly choosing the convenience and savings of online shopping. However, if those purchases were made at brick and mortar stores, the sales tax revenue that governments would collect amounts to as much as $13 billion according to the federal General Accountability Office. Having an online sales tax will allow states, cities and counties to collect this money. All governments struggle with pension, operational and other costs, and raising taxes is not an easy option. This makes online sales tax a sound choice under the right circumstances; retroactive tax collection is not permitted.

The ruling includes protections for small online businesses.

The court specified that its ruling was applicable to businesses with more than $100,000 in sales or more than 200 unique transactions per year. This may provide some relief to small, independent online retailers that will have a more difficult time adjusting to a new tax code.

Congressional Action/Implementation Moratorium.

Some stakeholders are advocating for Congress to create a six-month moratorium on sales tax collection to help businesses comply with different state statutes. Therefore, a like outcome is that some states will need to modify their current legislation to comply with the decision. If states enact laws perceived as limiting interstate commerce, then there is a strong chance that Congress will draft a federal standard. There is no timeline for this to happen.

Implementation and Timing.

Several states are issuing guidelines and implementing these new rules, so this will take time. It is still possible that there will be appeals in the lower courts for specific areas of compliance. Localities need to stay vigilant and proactive to ensure they are receiving the revenue they are entitled to.

To hear more about Avenu’s take on the case and how it might affect your area, download and watch the webinar for free here or view it on YouTube.