Resource Guide for Vermont Municipal Officials
Working in local government is a complex and demanding job. Union Bank is here to make it easier with a comprehensive list of resources to support your day-to-day municipal operations. From state and national organizations to technology and tools, we cover the most helpful resources as well as the latest municipal funding and financing options. Need additional help? Our Municipal Banking Team is here to answer your questions with friendly service and local expertise.
From local Vermont organizations, to national and international groups, joining one or more member associations can help you problem solve with peers facing similar challenges, build your career, and stay current on research, technology, and continuing education.
- Vermont Town & City Management Association: Since 1977, this membership organization has provided educational resources and networking opportunities to professionals working in Vermont municipal management. VTCMA also offers a senior advisor program in which a retired municipal manager from Vermont is available to provide advice and support.
- Vermont League of Cities & Towns: The League’s mission is to “serve and strengthen Vermont Local Government,” which they do through nonpartisan advocacy; a Municipal Assistance Center offering legal, consulting, and education services; risk sharing trusts to provide workers’ compensation and other essential liability coverage; educational publications; and an annual Town Fair for networking and training opportunities.
- International City/County Management Association: ICMA is a worldwide association of local government professionals. Membership gives you access to professional development training, cutting-edge research, educational resources, technical assistance, and more. There is an annual conference as well as more frequent regional conferences and events.
- Government Finance Officers Association: This is one of the older associations, created in 1906. Designed specifically for public finance officials in the US and Canada, GFOA supports “excellence in state and local government financial management” through educational resources, networking, research, and opportunities for recognition.
- National League of Cities: Another longtime member organization, NLC supports city officials across the country with cost-savings programs, training and technical assistance, networking events, annual conferences, and advocacy in D.C.
Tools and Technology for Local Government Managers
Organize your workplace, keep state-specific resources at your fingertips, communicate and manage projects, and more with this list of tools for public service professionals. We start with Vermont-specific resources and then move on to broader tools that are also applicable to New Hampshire municipalities.
- Vermont Department of Taxes: The Municipal Officials page contains an extensive list of tools for local government managers such as information about Real Estate Transaction Taxes, Town & City Forms and Reports, and more.
- Office of the State Treasurer: Browse helpful links on the Vermont State Treasurer’s homepage. On the Accounting Services page you’ll find more resources for local government officials including the statewide Municipal Equipment Loan Fund.
- General PILOT Program: The program for Vermont “to compensate municipalities for municipal taxes they are unable to collect on state-owned buildings.”
- White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative: Browse this page of apps and tools, including familiar names like Airbnb and TaskRabbit. Created after Hurricane Sandy, this list of technology resources is designed to support local governments, first responders, and survivors in the wake of a disaster.
- Open Government Laws: The Office of the Vermont Attorney General has links to public records law and other information about open government.
- Google Forms: A free survey administration app for all of your information-collecting needs. Collect email addresses for a community newsletter, create a poll, and gather any other pertinent info you want or need.
- Doodle Polls: A free polling tool for scheduling meetings and other time-sensitive events.
- Project Management Tools: Organize your projects, communicate with co-workers, and keep everyone on schedule with Asana, Microsoft Planner, Trello, and Slack.
Municipal Financing Sources
Everyone wants to enjoy well-maintained roads, quality schools and libraries, safe drinking water, and other public resources. However, the task of figuring out how to pay for these things can become quite contentious. To help you find affordable financing sources for capital improvement and infrastructure projects, here’s a comprehensive list of municipal financing sources and their definitions.
- Private Bank Loans: Keep your municipal financing local with Union Bank. We offer municipal lines of credit to help you operate smoothly and municipal term loans for new equipment, infrastructure improvements, or real estate.
- Tax-exempt bonds: The most common municipal financing tool for more than a century. Bond owners don’t have to pay federal tax on the bond interest they earn.
- Federal and state municipal grants: National programs such as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Community Development Block Grants, and more provide grant money for infrastructure projects. In Vermont, local governments can apply for the Municipal Planning Grant, Municipal Equipment Loan Fund, Vermont Community Development Program, and more (The Northeastern Vermont Development Association features a complete grant list on its site).
- Pay-go capital financing: Primarily used for smaller projects, this type of municipal financing uses cash and other assets, such as taxes, to pay for capital improvements.
- Pay-use capital financing: This is when local governments take on long-term debt through general obligation bonds (guaranteed), revenue bonds (dependent on income generated from the project), private activities bonds (a hybrid of public and private investment), and/or leasing-revenue bonds (usually used for equipment financing). Ultimately, the project is paid for throughout its usable life span instead of upfront.
- Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) credit assistance: Federal loans, guaranteed financing, and standby lines of credit. TIFIA financing cannot exceed 49 percent of the total cost of the project.
- State Revolving Funds: Obtain low-interest loans from federal and state funds.
- State Infrastructure Banks: Provides seed funds and low-interest loans for transportation improvements.
Municipal Banking Solutions from Union Bank
Are you looking for convenient ways to meet all of your municipal banking needs? Our Municipal Lending Team prides itself on offering personalized service and efficient solutions. We regularly make house calls to our municipal clients to discuss the municipal services and products we offer. During these conversations we look for ways to help streamline your administrative processes while protecting the integrity of financial information. Here are some examples of our most popular services and how they help municipal managers.
In a number of cases the installation of a Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) system has saved municipal administrative staff time and money in processing their daily bank deposits. With RDC the clerk simply captures an image of each check being deposited and then sends that electronic file directly to the bank’s operation center for account credit. This service reduces the frequency of trips to the bank, saves copies of the checks from the scanned file, and is conveniently performed right from the clerk’s desk at the town office.
This service is also popular with our municipal clients due to its convenience. With Cash Management the municipal employee can originate employee direct deposits for payroll, direct debits for payment of taxes, and view account information as well as monthly bank statements–all online from the comfort of your office. In particular, the direct debit feature enhances cash flow for the municipality while the online access eliminates delays in waiting for a monthly statement for reconciliation.
Municipalities tend to carry deposit balances well above the Federal Deposit Insurance Coverage Limit of $250,000. Insured Cash Sweep is a popular method of protecting these excess deposits. The municipality and the bank establish a predetermined daily balance in the funding account and then any excess funds are swept into the Insured Cash Sweep each night. This service has the backing of federal and state regulators as well as auditors as an acceptable protection method.
When you need private financing for municipal projects, Union Bank offers two convenient solutions: the flexibility of a municipal line of credit and municipal term loans for big purchases. As with everything we do, our municipal lending team will work with you individually to find personalized financing solutions that fit your budget and needs.
Your Municipal Banking Resource
Working in local government is a tough but rewarding job. People may focus on national politics, but your local municipality’s decisions and actions usually have a much more direct effect on residents than anything happening in the nation’s capital. As a local institution ourselves, Union Bank cares about the success of town clerks, town treasurers, and other municipal officials. We are here to help with convenient municipal deposit accounts and flexible municipal credit solutions. Contact our municipal banking experts today to learn more.