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Munetrix Provides Live, Interactive Map of Coronavirus Cases to Any Government Agency at No Cost

Free Embed Code Allows Governments to Provide Visualized Map for Any Website

Munetrix, a data analytics solutions provider serving municipalities and public school districts, has developed and launched a visualized map that renders live coronavirus cases data by county, and is making the map available to any municipality, county or government agency that wishes to embed it on its own website.

The Michigan Association of Counties was the first such organization to embed the map on its home page, and since then, more than ten others have embedded the map, including regional councils of government, counties, cities and more, representing more than 5,000 cumulative user views of the map in total as of April 13th.

The interactive map visualizes various data in a live, interactive and scalable manner, with various ways to render the most recently reported government data, including the number of cases, the number of deaths, as well as cases and deaths per 100,000 population, which is sortable by county, council of government and other geographic criteria, as set by the user.

“Access to updated, actionable information is critical right now, both for governments and the constituents they serve,” said Bob Kittle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Munetrix. “It’s vital that the data be visualized, easily understood and widely accessible, as leaders, administrators, health departments and the general public alike make critical and, oftentimes, life-or-death decisions during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt, as a data visualization company, it was our duty to do whatever our technology would allow to deliver that intelligence to those who need it, and to make it easy for anyone to display, use and understand,” he added.

Munetrix will provide a copy-and-paste embed code at no cost to any agency or government entity that would like to display the map on its own website. Simply contact Munetrix or the Michigan Association of Counties to submit a request.

About Munetrix

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Munetrix, among the nation’s largest aggregators of municipal and school district data, promotes municipal wellness and sustainability through its cloud-based data management tools and proprietary performance management applications. In partnering with Munetrix, municipalities and school districts are able to manage their data and access cost-effective products and advisory services to make meaningful and reliable budgets, financial projections, trend reports and better-informed forward-looking decisions.


News

As Michigan’s K-12 enrollment declines, count day grows in importance; first count day of the school year is Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Auburn Hills, Mich. –August 27,  2019 – The term, “count day” which is Wednesday October 2, 2019, is a familiar one to both Michigan educators and the parents who want their child counted, according to Buzz Brown, co-founder and Vice President of Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts. Brown says the familiar term is taking on increased significance as Michigan’s K-12 population declines.

“Students in Michigan school districts and charter schools are counted many other dates besides the first official count day in October,” Brown said. ‘There are actually four official count days each school year, but the October date is the standout because it’s first. From a percentage perspective 90% of district students are accounted for in October and 10% are accounted for in January.”

Most schools only count on count day because of the extra paperwork and reporting requirements for counting students after that date – but that can be a costly mistake, Brown cautions. That’s because declining enrollment and the competitive race to attract children to neighboring school districts, charter schools and private schools are collectively slicing into a shrinking pie.

“One of the few growing districts in SE Michigan lost $1M in state funding last year when 120 children failed to be counted for unknown reasons, yet given their growth rates, this district was able to absorb the cost more easily than others – but it still hurt,” Brown said.  “Most Michigan districts are contracting and fewer students mean fewer dollars.”

For those who miss count day, there is some leniency. Schools have 10 days after count day to count a child that has an unexcused absence, 30 days if the absence is excused and 45 days if the student is suspended. The challenge to the districts, regardless of the number counted, is that they always start the school year in Michigan before the state budget is decided, leaving some schools to borrow money until state aid is released.

“The timeframe of the state budget for education is a hot topic each fall. Compared to that, getting students to be counted on count day is a much easier task,” Brown said. “As some school districts will attest. a pizza party and other incentives to lure students to school that day also helps.”

Additional information on  school count day and funding can be found at the State of Michigan website.

News

And then there were none…cities and schools must prepare for silver tsunami of public sector retirements as next gen college students select other careers

Auburn Hills, Mich. –September X, 2019 –A silver tsunami of retirements is anticipated in schools and municipalities over the next several years; yet, as college students head back to college this month, only an estimated 5% are considering a career in the public sector. Further, a 2019 survey found the number of students graduating with a master’s degree in public policy and entering careers in federal, state and local government dropped 15% from 2011 to 2017. These statistics should have local government unit leaders on edge, according to Bob Kittle, president of Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts.

“Finance directors, assessors and administrators are just an example of positions already in short supply. Think of where we’ll be when those who understand complex water and sewer systems leave,” Kittle said. “And those technical positions lean more toward skilled trades rather than traditional four-year college grads, and the shortage of skilled trades has already been well established.”

A 2016 report from Pew noted that 50% of state and 52% of local government employees were between the ages of 45 and 64 in 2013; but Kittle says administrators at the local level can be reticent to share information on their own local unit’s expected retirement wave.

“I’m regularly on the speaker’s circuit discussing data driven decision making and succession planning.  When I ask for a show of hands as to how many in the audience will be retiring in the next five years, typically # hands go up,” Kittle said. “This supports the data we have in our platform that tracks employees by age range in cities and schools, but when we ask our customers outright for data on planned staff retirements over the next five years, there is definitely a reluctance to provide the information.”

Kittle says the hesitation can be that certain districts or cities don’t run reports on the data or track it well enough. That’s why Munetrix has a tool with its platform that makes tracking easier.

“We are really heading toward a crisis situation in the public sector in terms of talent and seniority,” Kittle said. “The Munetrix app is a tool to help support succession planning and institutional knowledge preservation, and to increase the portability of key jobs within the local unit, but we still need to raise awareness of the option for career changers and young adults to pursue public sector opportunities.”

For their part, the company established Munetrix University in 2013 to provide paid internships in data science to college students. The company has had 26 interns since it began the program in 2013.  Additionally, Munetrix announced this month a new scholarship program through the Michigan Government Finance Officials Association and (name of school association) that it would offer five  $1,000 scholarships to college students who plan to pursue a career in local government. Students may apply for the scholarship through (add website links.)

Education, Municipal, News, Opinion

Cheers to a successful millage passage!

By: Bob Kittle

It was announced at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference in May 2019 that a coalition of education advocates is aiming for a Wayne County millage to support after-school programs. If supported, the county-wide proposal would be on the Wayne County ballot in 2020. While this effort may be worthwhile, it is certain to be a challenge, first because it’s a county-wide vote, but also because gaining support for any millage proposal can be difficult – as almost any city or school district can attest. Having accurate and timely data can help build a strong case for millage requests and lessen the handwringing for anxious policymakers at the same time.

Munetrix understands the importance of data in community decision making. Increased demands for transparency make it clear that constituents want confidence that every penny is spent wisely. When current dollars aren’t enough to support operations or a new community initiative, a strong case can be made for additional funding by comparing how similar communities pay for equivalent services. You can also respond to naysayers with data reflecting that proposed millage rates aren’t unprecedented or out of line using relevant comparable analysis.

Citizens expect data to be accessible and will use it to better understand their community’s use of taxpayer funds. While preparing for your next city or school (or, in the case of Wayne County, after-school) millage, use data in your favor.  

Munetrix makes government data easy. If you need assistance with your next millage proposal, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Municipal, News, Opinion

Don’t believe everything you read. But believe this. Many Municipalities are Starving.

By: Bob Kittle

The headline of this March 21, 2019 post, Property Taxes Up $638 Million In 2018, by Michigan Capitol Confidential is eye-catching—and surely stoked the fire of those who believe they pay too much in property taxes—but let’s not let the facts get in the way.

While Michigan property tax collections may be up for the sixth consecutive year, it must be considered that the drop from 2008–2012 was so severe that the increases still haven’t caught up to pre-recession levels. That’s an important piece of information missing from the article, and is caused by the limitations of 1978’s Headlee Tax Amendment to the State’s Constitution, then followed up by 1994’s Proposal A.

To make this easier to understand, I will use an analogy with our retirement savings plans and homes. During the recession, most of us saw a 40–50% drop in the value of our retirement savings, only to see it storm back and exceed where we were initially—if we were patient. Same with housing values. Property owners saw their home values cut in half, and subsequently watched as they stormed back from 2012 to today. In most cases, our property is now worth more than it was worth pre-recession.

But local units of government in Michigan don’t see that appreciation because they are limited to a taxable value increase of CPI or 5% per year, whichever is lower. CPI didn’t exceed 2% until 2017 – so while our 401Ks and home values were rebounding at compounding double digit rates, municipalities had to watch as everybody else got well, but they were (are) handcuffed. In Auburn Hills, where I am a councilperson, our Total Taxable Value is still down $1B from its 2007 level, meaning we must operate on nearly $1M less in property tax revenue when it comes to paying our police and fire personnel, fixing roads and generally running the government.

On top of that, the State fixed their budget by pulling much needed sales tax revenue from local governments to fix their structural deficit. The last straw is that IF a community sees tax increases on certain properties exceed the constitutional limits, the rest of the city’s properties must be reduced by the corresponding value to make sure, on a city-wide basis, the total taxable value doesn’t exceed the allowable limit. The laws never considered a market crash!

Look, Munetrix is in the municipal data business, so we understand the role of data, especially in communicating to constituents. What we don’t like is half-truths, and appreciate when journalists provide balanced stories.

At the end of the day, many communities are cash-strapped and starving, but mostly not by their own actions.

News

Munetrix contribution to Dark Store Legislation Defense Fund reflects solidarity with the local units of government it serves

Auburn Hills, Mich. – March 21, 2019 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, showed its support for Escanaba and Michigan’s so-called Dark Store legislation, with a recent donation of $4,100.

The donation follows Munetrix September 2018 pledge to donate 10% of its subscription service price for each new Michigan city, village, township or county customer in the month of September to the Dark Store Legislation Defense Fund. Donations per governmental unit ranged from $500 to $1,500 depending on the subscription category. 

A vexing national issue for local governments and school districts, SB 1025 and HB 6049 were introduced in Michigan in May 2018 in response to Michigan Tax Tribunal’s application of a tax loophole that assessed the value of fully functioning big box stores as if they were empty (“dark”).  Both bills were re-introduced with bi-partisan support in January 2019 and are awaiting action

The loophole was first applied to a Menards store in Escanaba in 2014, but grew to national pharmacies, chain stores and fast food restaurants as retailers used it as a precedent to reduce their own property tax bills. The cumulative result has been a significant reduction in local tax revenues, which creates a challenge nationally for already struggling communities striving to deliver quality services in an affordable manner. 

The money donated by Munetrix and others, including municipalities and individuals, is helping defray the legal costs incurred by the City of Escanaba as it awaits a re-trial before the Michigan Tax Tribunal beginning May 13.

“Serving more than 300 Michigan municipalities and school districts, Munetrix gets in the trenches with our customers to help build and support fiscally healthy governmental units throughout Michigan. This donation falls right in line with that type of support and shows our commitment to their mission,” Munetrix President Bob Kittle said.

News

Munetrix contribution to Dark Store Legislation Defense Fund reflects solidarity with the local units of government it serves

Auburn Hills, Mich. – March 20, 2019 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, showed its support for Escanaba and Michigan’s so-called Dark Store legislation, with a recent donation of $4,100. 

The donation follows Munetrix September 2018 pledge to donate 10% of its subscription service price for each new Michigan city, village, township or county customer in the month of September to the Dark Store Legislation Defense Fund. Donations per governmental unit ranged from $500 to $1,500 depending on the subscription category. 

A vexing national issue for local governments and school districts, SB 1025 and HB 6049 were introduced in Michigan in May 2018 in response to Michigan Tax Tribunal’s application of a tax loophole that assessed the value of fully functioning big box stores as if they were empty (“dark”). Both bills were re-introduced with bi-partisan support in January 2019 and are awaiting action. 

The loophole was first applied to a Menards store in Escanaba in 2014, but grew to national pharmacies, chain stores and fast food restaurants as retailers used it as a precedent to reduce their own property tax bills. The cumulative result has been a significant reduction in local tax revenues, which creates a challenge nationally for already struggling communities striving to deliver quality services in an affordable manner. 

The money donated by Munetrix and others, including municipalities and individuals, is helping defray the legal costs incurred by the City of Escanaba as it awaits a re-trial before the Michigan Tax Tribunal beginning May 13. 

“Serving more than 300 Michigan municipalities and school districts, Munetrix gets in the trenches with our customers to help build and support fiscally healthy governmental units throughout Michigan. This donation falls right in line with that type of support and shows our commitment to their mission,” Munetrix President Bob Kittle said. 

News

Munetrix again named to GovTech100 index for innovation and effectiveness in government technology

Auburn Hills, Mich. – February 5, 2019– Among a compendium of 100 companies focused on making a difference in state and local governments, Munetrix is pleased to announce its inclusion on the 2019 GovTech100, an annual index by Government Technology magazine that highlights the top 100 companies in the country that serve government in unique, innovative and effective ways. Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, has been included on the GovTech100 since its introduction in 2016 and is one of only two Michiganbased companies that made the 2019 list. 

Munetrix President Bob Kittle said it’s gratifying to be recognized among the best in the country for government tech. 

“Being named to the GovTech100 for the fourth consecutive year reinforces our commitment to helping municipalities and schools increase productivity and efficiency while planning for the future,” Kittle said. “We have worked hard to earn our reputation of being a thought leader who guides government customers in budgeting, transparency, complying with legislated mandates, and data management—enabling them to monitor their municipal wellness through the use of our technology. Our team couldn’t be more proud.” 

A complete list of GovTech100 2019 honorees can be viewed here. The list is also featured in the January/February 2019 issue of Government Technology magazine. 

The 2019 GovTech100 recognition comes on the heels of Munetrix winning the “Education Advocate” award in December 2018 from the Auburn Hills, Michigan Chamber of Commerce for its efforts to help plan for the next generation of public sector leaders. 

With estimates that only two percent of graduates are bound for a career in the public sector, while more than a third of public sector employees are expected to retire in the next seven years, Munetrix has been a leading advocate of succession planning and the development of professional administrators to head local units of government in the future. Because both cities and schools benefit by using its software platform, Munetrix products effectively respond to the ‘silver tsunami’ of anticipated retirements using data science and best-in-class analytics. 

“Munetrix has embedded a data management strategy into our online platform that institutionalizes relevant information, including compliance lists, in order to create a seamless handoff from retiree to new hire,” Kittle said. “This role-based information system lets new hires know what they need to do and when they need to do it. No matter who may come and go, the responsibilities of the role generally remain unchanged and can be successfully managed.” 

In addition to software that eases succession planning, the company offers paid internships through the Munetrix University to college students who want to learn about careers in cities and schools by working with Munetrix and its local units of government customer base. The company has hired 23 interns since the Munetrix University program began in 2012. 

Since its founding in 2010, Munetrix has continued to solidify its reputation among government and school district leaders. Munetrix is an approved vendor 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. It is the only resource provider that generates a fiscal wellness measure—the Munetrix Score—for cities and schools, and the company has twice received “Readers’ Choice Top Products” recognition from K-12 leaders’ education trade publication, District Administration. The GovTech100 for 2019 brings to nine the total number of awards Munetrix has received in just four years—reassurance that it is focused on the right things. 

News

Munetrix adds new Chief Administrator role as business opportunities expand

Auburn Hills, Mich. –January 4, 2019 –Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, is pleased to announce Stacey Frankovich has joined the company in the new role of Chief Administrator. The announcement was made by Munetrix President, Bob Kittle. 

As Chief Administrator, Frankovich will be responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the company, including the recruitment and hiring of new employees. 

“Munetrix has experienced significant growth in the last two years and we need the additional administrative oversight to keep the office running smoothly as business opportunities increase,” Kittle said. “Stacey Frankovich thrives in a fast-paced environment and brings handson experience in project management and process and procedure development; she also has strong organizational leadership skills.” 

Frankovich has served in a variety of roles that intersect with education and municipal government. Immediately prior to joining Munetrix, she served concurrent roles as both the Director, Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Macomb Community College and North American Lead for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Inclusive Innovation Challenge (MIT IIC). 

MIT IIC is a global challenge aimed at supporting entrepreneurs who are using technology for social change and inclusion in future of work initiatives. Frankovich’s responsibilities included managing the day-to-day operations of the North American Challenge and relationship building with municipalities, public and private partnerships, government agencies, industry leaders and entrepreneurs. At the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, she managed the Innovation Fund, a $2 million pre-seed collaboration between Macomb Community College and JP Morgan Chase for early-stage tech start-ups. 

Frankovich also served as the Michigan DARPA Matching Funds Program Manager, Development Manager and Market Development Manager for the Macomb/Oakland University Incubator from 2012 to 2015 and as Program Lead of i2B, a student business incubator at Oakland University, from 2011 to 2015. 

Frankovich is also active in civic and professional groups. She is a Governor-appointed public member of the Michigan Board of Medicine, and a public speaker on entrepreneurship opportunities at the college level. She holds a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration from Baker College.

News

Munetrix, the only entity tracking Michigan public school safety drill performance times, finds improved response rates between 2017 and 2018

Auburn Hills, Mich. –January 18, 2019–Munetrix, a public sector solutions provider offering data management, analytics and reporting tools for states, local governments and public school districts, revealed the findings of its 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 review of tracking data on Michigan’s mandated public school safety drills, finding improvements in timing and safety, and also some areas where schools are beefing up security efforts. Munetrix is the only Michigan entity tracking such data. 

Per Michigan Public Act 12 of 2014, public school districts must run safety drills 10 times each year, for each building, for the following situations: 

  • Fire 
  • Tornado 
  • Lock Down 

Note: Cardiac incident/AED checks are optional per the legislation, but 10% of school districts in the study have reported data on them. 

Munetrix looked at data from a combined 4,025 public safety drills completed in the 2016 – 2017 and 2017 – 2018 school years from the 120 Michigan public school districts that use the Munetrix Public Safety Drill app for compliance and performance improvement. Of the 4,025 drills completed, 99% documented drill execution times and lessons-learned comments in the app. 

Key findings include: 

  • Fire Drill average execution time improved 4 percent from 2017 to 2018 
  • Tornado average execution time remained virtually the same from 2017 to 2018 
  • Lock Down average execution times improved 6 percent from 2017 to 2018 

The Munetrix Public Safety Drill app, which can also alert county emergency managers and first responders of an incident, allows for schools to submit feedback on drill results for each particular drill – and as this report shows, the overwhelming majority do. Munetrix Vice President and Co-Founder Buzz Brown said that while Michigan Public Act 12 doesn’t require comments, they are an acknowledgement of how seriously school administrators approach these drills. 

“Comments for improvement cite the need to shut doors, keep students quiet and enhance communication among staff, including substitute teachers, but the majority of feedback emphasizes how smoothly the drills went and areas that were improved over previous drills,” Brown said. “The overall efficiency of the drill process and efforts noted for improvement reflect the safety-first philosophy of Michigan’s school leaders. It’s a good example of the school community and the state working together for a common goal of student safety.” 

Bob Kittle, president of Munetrix, adds that Michigan Public Act 12 not only doesn’t require comments, it does not require school districts to include drill times in the documentation either. 

“When a mandate is made for an issue, especially those that involve student safety and have time sensitivity – like safety drills – tracking the data is a great way to validate the impact of the legislation and can even help establish benchmarks,” Kittle said. “Munetrix is leading the way in this effort. We believe all legislation should require statistical capture and reporting to determine if the desired outcome was achieved. Think of how much more we could learn about the effectiveness of Michigan Public Act 12 if this data was being captured for every district, as just one example. You know the old saying, what isn’t measured can’t be managed” 

Munetrix is holding a free webinar on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 2 pm entitled Lessons Learned from Statewide 2018 Public Safety Drills. Register here for the webinar or visit https://www.munetrix.com/.

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