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How Local Governments 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  • The current state of historical documents for most governments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.

 

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.

US Conference of Mayors Touts Avenu’s Revenue Recovery Program

What are cities doing to remain livable? See the United States Conference of Mayors Business Council Best Practice Report for innovation at work. Avenu is honored to be included on page 10 for its hotel revenue recovery program in El Paso, Texas. Download report here.

 

Avenu to attend MASC Annual Meeting

Adam Rubin

South Carolina’s city managers will be on the lookout for Avenu Insights & Analytics at the Municipal Association of South Carolina Annual Meeting. Taking place July 18-22 at the Marriott Hotel, Hilton Head Island, the MASC is a place for local government leaders to network, learn, and share their own insights on how to best manage the state’s municipalities. An avid supporter of local agencies, Avenu remains committed to helping South Carolina’s cities maximize their revenue and run more efficiently, and will be on site throughout the week. Look for Avenu Business Development Executive Adam Rubin at sessions – he will be ready to answer your questions regarding:

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

For any questions or to get in touch with Adam at the conference, reach out to him at adam.rubin@avenuinsights.com.