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Fiscal Health, Municipal, News, Opinion

At least for now, Michigan closes the chapter on Emergency Financial Managers

By: Bob Kittle and Katrina Powell

The State of Michigan Department of the Treasury sent out a press release on June 27, 2018 announcing that for the first time in 18 years, neither a school district or municipality in Michigan has an emergency manager. You can read the press release in its entirety here, but following is an excerpt.

“LANSING, Mich. – State Treasurer Nick Khouri today announced that no Michigan municipality or school district is under state financial oversight through an emergency manager for the first time in nearly 18 years. The…announcement comes after releasing Highland Park School District from receivership under the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act. Since 2000, there has been an emergency manager providing financial oversight somewhere in Michigan.”

For many years the Emergency Financial Manager (later changed to Emergency Manager or EM) concept was regularly maligned by some constituents, citing it as an overreach of state government at the loss of local control and racially motivated. The term carpetbagger was bandied about as well. One respected national government trade publication headlined a 2012 article, Emergency Financial Managers: Michigan’s Unwelcome Savior. As local government financial advisors ourselves, (Katrina was the State-appointed City Manager for Hamtramck from 2014 to 2017) we, but especially Katrina, have been on the receiving end of some hurtful and untrue verbal attacks about roles and motives.

News

Munetrix donates $1,000 to Baldwin Center in support of STEM education

Auburn Hills, Mich. – July 10, 2018 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, was pleased to support the efforts of the Pontiac-based Baldwin Center with a donation of $1,000 on July 9. 

The donation is intended for use with the Baldwin Center’s STEM program, which provides engineering related after-school education for children from Pontiac in grades 1-8. The program was brought to the attention of Munetrix co-founder Buzz Brown, who is active at Bloomfield Hills-based Kirk in the Hills church, through fellow church member Alan Miller. Miller is an engineer at GM who leads the volunteer student engineering program at the Baldwin Center. 

Pictured in the photo: Elizabeth Longley (Baldwin Center Executive Director), Buzz Brown (Munetrix), Alan Miller (General Motors), Bob Kittle (Munetrix President) and Asalyn Coachman (Baldwin Center Board Chair). Photo credit: Christine Crabill.

About the Baldwin Center 

The Baldwin Center’s mission is to feed, clothe, educate and empower the men, women and children of the Pontiac community. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Center has been serving its neighbors since 1981 and currently offers more than 25 support programs that meet basic needs, offer assistance in a crisis, provide education and enrichment opportunities for adults and children, and serve as a safety net. Learn more here

Education, Fiscal Health, Municipal, Opinion

FY 2025 forecast could spell disaster for many communities

From this point forward, saving every minute and dollar possible in anticipation for what lies ahead will be crucial to survival in the public sector.

Maybe you’ve heard us talk about the silver tsunami, or perhaps you’ve read other articles on it, but the reality is while we all can clearly see what’s coming for us, few of us are doing anything to prepare for it.

Let’s be clear about what awaits us: in less than 10 years’ time almost half of the public sector workforce will retire.

Conservative estimates put the looming exodus at 40 percent. Depending on the make-up of your workforce this mass departure could happen at a more subtle pace throughout the next decade or it could happen almost over night, in a single fiscal year or season. Regardless of the makeup of your workforce, the coming silver tsunami will leave destruction in its wake.

News

New Munetrix Educator Evaluator tool simplifies compliance with Michigan Public Act 173 through seamless data integration and calculations of NWEA, M-STEP and STAR data

Auburn Hills, Mich. – April 17, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has released its new Munetrix Educator Evaluator tool to simplify customer compliance with Michigan Public Act 173, which governs educator evaluations for teachers and administrators in the State of Michigan. The announcement was made by Munetrix President Bob Kittle. 

Signed into law in 2015, PA 173 requires that educator evaluations be conducted annually, and that they incorporate student growth data as a significant component, beginning with 25% of the evaluation in the 2015-2016 school year and growing to 40% in 2018-2019. Teachers and administrators with three consecutive years of highly effective ratings may receive biennial reviews in place of annual reviews, making the 2018-2019 results particularly critical. 

The Munetrix Educator Evaluator tool was introduced to simplify the onerous task of manipulating data from multiple sources while performing teacher evaluations in the 2018-2019 school year. The Munetrix Educator Evaluator is foundationally based on the Michigan Department of Education’s model. Integrated into the Munetrix platform using the company’s data science expertise, the tool also allows school administrators to load their own data and immediately obtain results. 

Without the tool, teachers will have to spend hours performing yet another reporting requirement that takes time away from the classroom. Based on recent reports on student growth declines in Michigan, school districts cannot afford to spend time doing this manually. 

The Munetrix Educator Evaluator can be used for any assessment data that provides Student Growth Percentiles (SGP), making it easy for users to calculate teacher evaluations with data from NWEA, STAR and M-STEP. Fiscal year 2018-1019 will mark the first time that M-STEP data can be evaluated for the required three consecutive years, so the release of the tool is timely. 

“Our customers trust the integrity of the Munetrix web-based platform to help them meet important state compliance requirements, in addition to serving as a fiscal wellness indicator and strategic planning and data analytics tool,” Kittle said. “The Munetrix Educator Evaluator is another example of Munetrix bringing additional value to school districts in anticipation of future needs. Munetrix allows districts to meet data driven state mandates in a comprehensive, timely and cost-effective manner.” 

Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to build its reputation among government and school district leaders. Munetrix is one of only two approved vendors prequalified by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to provide data analytics tools for reimbursement to both Michigan public school districts and cities and is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure. In 2016, the company received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition for the second consecutive year from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration. Munetrix has also been named a GovTech100 company for three consecutive years, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country serving government in unique, innovative and effective ways. 

Education, Municipal, Opinion

Start Your Second Quarter Plans With These 3 Considerations

Bob KittleWith the first quarter behind us, the following three topics are high-value items to consider in Q2 for planning purposes:

Infrastructure Planning

The problems associated with aging infrastructure can cripple municipal budgets, but with proper planning, communities can strategically use their revenue when and where it counts most. The most effective way to plan for infrastructure improvements is to create an inventory of assets, public lands and utilities, noting: the present condition; when repairs were last made and how long they are expected to last; the cost and time associated with needed repairs; and average usage. Many states statutorily require this to be performed.

Once you have a complete inventory, use common sense and data science to plan projects. Avoid redundancy and lower costs by planning street projects with local utilities. Address potholes and surface damage by assessing the extent of the damage, the risk to safety and average traffic flow. Align infrastructure planning across all departments. Maintaining centralized oversight of large infrastructure projects and ensuring all staff members adhere to an internal communications plan, decreases risks of redundancy and improves timeline efficiency.

News

Munetrix cites 14 Michigan public school districts as “most improved” in fiscal wellness

Auburn Hills, Mich. – March 14, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has designated 14 Michigan public school districts as “most improved” based on their Munetrix Score, a fiscal wellness indicator that acts as a financial barometer for schools and municipalities, much like a FICO score does for individuals. 

The Munetrix Score range is zero to 10, with zero being a perfect score. It provides school leaders a robust fiscal early warning tool and allows them the ability to model financial plans into the future to see what their “fiscal wellness” will look like two to three years down the road. In looking for school district financial trends for this report, Munetrix’s algorithms mash 12 critical data points over a five year period, while looking for chronic or high magnitude problems such as a tenuous fund balance or large enrollment swings. The Munetrix Score for most improved districts are for the 2016-2017, 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014, 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 school years and are based on the latest available audited school district data provided by the Michigan Department of Education

The 14 Michigan school districts to receive a “Most Improved” Munetrix Score based on financial performance from 2012 to 2017 are: 

“The challenges to Michigan’s public school finances are broad and far-reaching, yet these districts, even tiny Bellaire with only 395 students and North Dickinson with 279, are managing to work their way back to fiscal wellness – and are to be commended for their fiscal stewardship,” Munetrix President Bob Kittle said. “As Michigan’s overall student population continues to decline, with no signs of a significant trend reversal, districts are showing resiliency and commitment to their primary educational mission, while aiming to stay financially solvent.” 

Three Districts make both Munetrix “Most Improved” and “Perfect Score” lists 

Kittle noted that three districts on the list, Montrose Community Schools, Oak Park School District and Reed City Area Public Schools also appeared on the perfect Munetrix Score list released by the company in February 2018. 

“These schools deserve special commendation because they improved eight points over a threeyear period and sustained a perfect Munetrix Score of zero for two additional years,” Kittle said. “Each of these districts serves different geographic and demographic student populations, yet they have achieved an equivalent level of success in fiscal wellness. The challenge for these schools, and all the other districts on the most improved and perfect Munetrix Score lists, is to keep the positive trends going.” 

Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to build its reputation among government and school district leaders. Munetrix is one of only two approved vendors prequalified by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget to provide data analytics tools for reimbursement to both Michigan public school districts and cities, and is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure. In December 2016, the company received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition for the second consecutive year from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration. Munetrix has also been named a GovTech100 company for three consecutive years, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country serving government in unique, innovative and effective ways. 

News

Munetrix adds Detroit-area municipal leader Katrina Powell as Vice President of Municipal Services in newly created leadership position

Auburn Hills, Mich. – February 13, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for state and local governments and public school districts, today announced the hiring of Katrina Powell as Vice President of Municipal Services to head up the company’s growing public sector practice. 

Prior to joining Munetrix, Powell served the City of Hamtramck as a state appointed City Manager from 2014 to 2017, overseeing 10 departments, a $17 million general fund budget and 125 full-time employees. Powell worked closely with the Hamtramck mayor and a 6-person city council, and was a key part in the turn-around effort in this thriving community. Bob Kittle, president of Munetrix, announced Powell’s appointment. 

“Katrina is a strongly motivated, no-nonsense leader who makes things happen,” Kittle said. “Her extensive financial and operational knowledge of state and local governments will help Munetrix solidify our current relationships and build new opportunities to support our reputation as the leading data company for government transparency and financial planning.” 

Prior to the City of Hamtramck, Powell was the President and CEO of Municipal Fleet Services in Longwood, Florida, where she managed a government fleet of 500 vehicles and achieved business growth within a start-up environment from 2011 to 2014. Powell also served as the City Administrator/Interim Finance Director of the City of Longwood, Florida, from 2009-2011; City Manager of Fort Meade, Florida from 2005 to 2007; and Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Deltona, Florida from 2001 to 2005. In between municipal leadership roles, she worked as a real estate sales associate in Lakeland, Florida, closing deals on executive homes, mixed-use developments, planned unit developments, and commercial real estate in the central Florida region. 

Powell served in the United States Army for 20 years (Active/Reserves) from 1988 to 2008 and received an honorable discharge. She holds Bachelor of Science degree in business and management from the University of Maryland, University College, in Heidelberg, Germany. 

News

36 Michigan Public School Districts Receive Perfect Munetrix Scores For Three Consecutive Years

Auburn Hills, Mich. – Jan. 22, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for state and local governments and public school districts, continued to help local governments evaluate their fiscal climate and add to their coffers through a tool available on the expanded Munetrix platform. The Munetrix® Transparency Compliance Report WizardTM simplified the submission process for local governments applying to City, Village and Township Revenue Sharing (CVTRS) and County Incentive Program (CIP)—programs that distribute sales tax collected by the State of Michigan to local governments as unrestricted revenues. 

Munetrix clients who used The Munetrix® Transparency Compliance Report Wizard™ are projected to receive state appropriations totaling more than $35 million in fiscal year 2018; since the tool’s inception in 2011, the State of Michigan has disbursed almost $200 million to Munetrix clients. One Oakland County township who used the report wizard, for example, will receive $319,030 in revenue sharing for fiscal 2018. 

Munetrix President Bob Kittle said the reports required by the state could take weeks for those who do not use a transparency platform like Munetrix because they have to rely on a variety of time consuming, error-prone spreadsheets which end up as impractical PDFs. Instead, Kittle finds that local governments can complete the necessary paperwork in a couple of hours by using Munetrix tools. The key to capturing available revenue through the report wizard tool is the streamlined reporting process and the ability of users to gather additional information that has useful downstream benefits. 

“The best part in using the Munetrix financial transparency and budget planning tools is that it is not futile work,” Kittle said. “The Munetrix® Transparency Compliance Report WizardTM abridges the total process to apply for statutory state revenue sharing under Michigan’s transparency requirements, so our local governments expend a fraction of the time compared to what they would have if they did this manually. Even better, the data is turned into useful information that helps them with business management and planning decisions going forward. This is just one of the many benefits of the system.” 

The transparency platform is one of the reasons why Munetrix has landed on Government Technology Magazine’s Top 100 Companies 2018—the third consecutive year Munetrix has been recognized for making an impact in state and local government markets. 

“Finance directors and chief administrators like the ease and cost savings associated with using Munetrix to complete their compliance reports,” Kittle said. “The Munetrix transparency platform has multiple uses. These reports are just an example of how an integrated system works to soften the impact of non-funded state-mandated reporting, while freeing up time for governmental units to focus on the efficient delivery of valuable services to their residents.” 

The deadline to submit the required applications to the state in order to receive 100 percent of the state allotted revenue sharing for fiscal year 2018 was December 1, 2017. To receive pro-rated reduced payments, the application deadlines are February 1, April 1, June 1 and August 1, 2018, respectively. 

News

Michigan-based public sector solutions provider Munetrix named to GovTech100 list for third consecutive year

Auburn Hills, Mich. – Jan. 10, 2018 – Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for state and local governments and public school districts, was included on the 2018 GovTech100, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country serving government in unique, innovative and effective ways. Munetrix has been included on the GovTech100 list since it was introduced in 2016 and is one of only three Michigan-based companies listed for 2018. The announcement of the GovTech100 honor was made by Munetrix President, Bob Kittle. 

“Receiving the GovTech100 award for three consecutive years reinforces our commitment to helping municipalities and schools increase productivity and efficiency while planning for the future,” Kittle said. “As government customers across the country gain a deeper understanding of the Munetrix platform capabilities, they are finding additional uses for our technology in budgeting, transparency, complying with legislated mandates, and data management, all while monitoring their municipal wellness.” 

A complete list of GovTech100 2018 honorees can be viewed here and in the print version of the January/February 2018 issue of GovTech magazine. 

The 2018 GovTech100 recognition follows multiple awards for Munetrix in 2017 and 2016. Most recently, the company was included in the Center for Digital Government’s inaugural Government Experience Awards in the Fall of 2017. Designed to honor U.S. government units that offer citizens more integrated, anticipatory and personalized electronic services, the award included Munetrix in a special category for private sector-created experiences established through government data, APIs and other innovative partnerships. 

Specifically, Munetrix was highlighted in the Government Experience Award for its proprietary Emergency Preparedness Manager™ application, which simplifies scheduling, management, reporting and compliance with school Fire, Tornado and Active Shooter safety drills in a relational database that meets all business rules for Michigan Schools under Public Act 12 of 2014. Separately, Munetrix was announced as one of two approved vendors to provide data analytics and transparency tools to Michigan municipalities in 2017, under Section 936 of the General Government Appropriations. This recognition complements Munetrix’s status as an approved vendor to Michigan Public Schools for the third consecutive year under Public Act 108 of 2017. 

“The State of Michigan must be commended for their proactive means of helping local governments navigate through tough economic conditions,” Kittle said. “Although each entity is unique regarding the service they provide, public schools and their municipal counterparts are interconnected in so many ways. When one sneezes, the other catches a cold,” 

Kittle continued. “Now we can take a holistic approach to helping the ‘community’ rather than one government type or the other. At the end of the day, it’s the same taxpayer they serve, so all stakeholders benefit.” Kittle suggests Michigan’s unique funding mechanism might help other states realize they do not have to own everything to be effective. 

“The private sector can do much of the heavy lifting and make investments associated with new technology that helps all levels of government be more productive. Perhaps this could be a model for others to consider,” Kittle said. 

About Government Technology 

Government Technology is about solving problems in state and local government through the smart use of technology. Government Technology is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

Municipal, Opinion

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs or People, People, People?

I get a kick when politicians say they are going to create jobs when there are so many jobs out there now, just not enough people to fill them.

In the public sector, this is really going to hit home in the next 3-10 years, when the tail end of the baby-boomers reach the age of retirement, or 65. When I ask local government leaders what percentage of their workforce will retire in the next decade, they tell me at least 30%, which could even be low. Those who can retire with a pension at age 55 for example, will not stick around to 65; but some of them will continue to work post retirement as 1099s or will part time it at another local government due to the shortage their leaving has on the overall public sector workforce.

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