I Didn’t Know MRSC Had That!
Over the past few years, I’ve worked with new clerk/treasurers from small cities and used the phrase “We don’t know what we don’t know” to highlight the point that there is so much to learn being new to the world of governmental finance.
If you’ve never worked in that world or in a city clerk’s office, you probably don’t know about LGIP, TIB, TIP, CIP, REET, TBD, PRA, OPMA, and a host of other acronyms. You also may not know about AWC, SAO, WFOA, WPTA, WMCA, WCIA, CIAW, and most importantly for this article, MRSC. So, to learn more about the first set of acronyms let’s talk about the last one.
Since coming on board in August I have become awestruck at all the resources MRSC has to offer, many of which I was completely unaware of. Certainly, I knew of and had visited MRSCs Research Tools to look up RCWs and sample documents. I submitted questions online using Ask MRSC, and I’ve used many of their publications, including the annual Budget Suggestions and revenue guides for counties and for cities and towns, but here are just a few areas of interest I had no idea we offered.
Local Ballot Measure Database
Want to find out which local ballot measures have passed and which have failed? By how much? In which areas of the state? All of this is available under MRSC’s Local Ballot Measure Database, which has been tracking how city, county, and special purpose district ballot measures have fared in Washington State since November 2011.
City/Town Sales Tax Rates & Components
You know your city’s tax rate is 9.1%, but maybe not what makes up that rate. Perhaps you’re curious what the tax rates are for other jurisdictions in your county. MRSC’s Tax and Population Data webpage covers this information as well as data on city and county populations, assessed valuations, property tax levies, sales tax distributions, and sales tax components/rates in the state, compiled from information provided by state agencies.
City/County Website Search
This very cool tool allows you to search the websites of cities and/or counties for a particular topic. For example, looking for information on how other cities or counties have spent their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars? Enter “ARPA” in the City & County Websites Search and you’ll get hits from Bellevue to Spokane.
Just looking for as much local government finance-related information as you can find? Check out the many resources MRSC devotes to local government Finance. You will be amazed at what comes up: 53 topics under 10 categories that include accounting, assets, budgets, revenues and more.
Finally, I want to share a webinar recording I discovered while writing this piece: Making Your Job Easier With MRSC’s Services. MRSC offers these live webinars twice yearly, in the spring and fall, and this recording was captured this past August. The webinar provides viewers with information about MRSC, it’s resources, and an in-depth look at how to use the many online research tools available.
Now, about those other acronyms. The first set, LGIP through OPMA, are all ones you may need to become familiar with in performing the day-to-day activities of your job. They are as follows:
- Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
- Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP)
- Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA)
- Public Records Act (PRA)
- Real Estate Excise Tax (REET)
- Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD)
- Transportation Improvement Board (TIB)
- Transportation Improvement Programs/Plans (TIP)
AWC through WMCA are all additional resources and each organization has its own website for you to explore. Whether you are looking for information, training, conferences, or one-on-one assistance, they are all here to help you learn and do your job better.
- Association of Washington Cities (AWC)
- Office of the Washington State Auditor (SAO)
- Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA)
- Washington Municipal Clerks Association (WMCA)
- Washington Public Treasurers Association (WPTA)
And finally, the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA) and the Cities Insurance Association of Washington (CIAW). Hopefully, your city has insurance against crime, equipment breakdown, property damage, cyber-attacks, and other forms of damage. They are likely covered by one of these two risk pools. They don’t just provide coverage, though. They offer training and scholarships for training offered by external partners, such as MRSC. You can visit their websites for additional information.
Now, with this vast wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, go out and do great things!
MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.