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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.

Education, Municipal, Opinion

The Talking Database: Giving Voice to Government Data

Munetrix Blog - The Talking Database

Advancements in data analysis technology can help school districts and local governments identify and thwart financial crises.

Government data tells a story that can only be read when it’s written in a language we all understand.

Transparency in government is an oft-used catch phrase that’s defined differently from one person to the next. States regulate what data must be provided to the public and sometimes how that data is displayed, but for the most part it is a free for all that results in communities posting fancy charts that average people — both residents and employees — have little time and inclination to understand. Reading lines on a chart or graph is one thing, but walking away with an understanding of the full picture and what it means down the road is another.

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.

Education, News

Michigan Education Finance Study

I was reading the just released Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) report titled, Michigan Education Finance Study, commissioned to them by the Michigan Department of Treasury.   The report suggests that there is inadequacy in funding to Michigan Public Schools.

Really?

My first thought was, “We needed to pay $399,000 of taxpayer money to have somebody from Colorado tell us this in a 224 page report?” That’s $1,781 per page!  This subject has been researched and talked about for years.

So I sent a note to my longtime friend, Eric Lupher, Executive Director of the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, a non-profit, non-partisan, 100-year-old think tank, probably the best think tank there is, and I asked him for his opinion.

The reply I received was so special I have to share it with you. As you know, Munetrix tries to put complicated government “things” into a context anybody can understand, and Eric just trumped us with his simplicity to my question about the APA report.

“Think of it (the APA Report) like getting a diagnosis for your car.  You know it isn’t working right. It’s making a strange noise, but you don’t know what’s causing the noise.  You’ve just paid the mechanic certified in automotive technology to figure out the root of the problem.  Now, we as a state have to decide whether we want to pay to get the problem fixed or if we can live with the annoying noise the system is making.  The system functions, but not in an optim148785_503602589682411_301510673_nal way.  We know that more money, better directed, can improve the performance.  But that costs money.  Are we content to eat out a few less times each week?  To live without cable for a while?

You could have trusted your neighbor (someone inside the state) to diagnose the problem, but your wife would dismiss the diagnosis because the neighbor isn’t certified and probably has preconceived notions about the problem.  So you go to an outsider, APA in this case, for the diagnosis.”

Capiche?

Eric Lupher, Executive Director – Citizens Research Council of Michigan

Mr. Lupher – I couldn’t have gotten this one any better than that. I, and anyone else who reads this, thank you for your succinct, analogous explanation.

Bob Kittle, President & CEO, Munetrix LLC

Opinion

Why do virtual academies get the same per-student funding as traditional brick and mortar schools?

Along with my business partner, Buzz Brown, I spend a great deal of time each day mired in Michigan local government and school district data and often ask myself questions about the information the data provides. For example, on the hot-button topic of school funding, the state provides equal state reimbursement for students who attend a virtual school, versus a traditional K12 or charter school.  Why?  Is this trend filling the coffers of for-profit virtual schools while draining much needed funds from traditional schools?

Municipal, News, Opinion

Can Open Checkbooks Promote Transparency In Local Governments and Prevent Theft?

The recent news in the Oakland Press about the City of Oak Park’s former clerk siphoning $433,000 out of the city’s coffers over a 2-year period made me think … would a higher level of transparency by the city have been able to thwart such an incident?

Within the Munetrix toolbox is a Dynamic Check Register that takes the transparency discussion to the next level.  Local governments have the ability to export their vendor accounts payable files directly from their accounting software into a publicly accessible, searchable database.  Some refer to this as “Open Checkbook” but it by itself is only a fraction what it takes to truly be transparent.

Municipal, News, Opinion

Police: Tough and Smart

As Mayor Pro-tem for the City of Auburn Hills, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to address the men and women in uniform at the Annual Police Department Awards Banquet Dinner.  Below are my my remarks.  

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share in this important function with you and your families tonight. I’ll work to keep my comments to a minimum.  When I tried to think up words that best describe my view of what it means to be a police officer, I came up with the following list:

  • Hard Working
  • Smart
  • Caringpolice-hat
  • Transparent
  • Ethical
  • Dedicated

I’m sure I missed a couple, but I’ll take a couple minutes to share how I correlate each of those to your public servitude.

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