Finance Department

The Finance Department handles all financial and accounting tasks for the City of Ashland and the Ashland Water and Wastewater Utility. In addition to the responsibilities related to financial management and record keeping, the Finance Department also performs significant Customer Service functions.

 

CITY FINANCIAL STABILITY

It is essential that the City maintain fiscal stability to be able to deliver high quality services.  This requires an effective and transparent financial system, accurate and reliable forecasting of revenues, an enhanced tax base, and control of expenses.  To that end key objectives have been developed to ensure the City maintains fiscal stability and accountability.

Primary Objectives:

Objective 1:    Maintain a Stable, Efficient and Transparent Financial Environment

  1. Develop and maintain an online database of City-owned properties to improve the transparency of government assets.
  2. Increase the accessibility of financial information on the City’s website by creating public viewing portals.
  3. Conduct surveys and focus groups to determine services residents need most (needs vs. wants), are willing to support financially through new revenue options, and their levels of satisfaction with current services; neighborhood leaders are solicited for input.
  4. Work with City Council, City staff, school district, county, and neighboring communities to identify opportunities for feasible, efficient, and cost effective collaboration and consolidation.
  5. Ensure that all departments have ready access to financial tools and information to assist in decision making processes.
  6. Creation and implementation of financial policies and procedures.

 

Objective 2:    Provide a Reliable Five-Year Financial Forecast That Ensures Stability of Operations and Capital Purchases

  1. Adopt a budget that is in alignment with the financial forecast and the strategic plan priorities.
  2. Provide regular updates on the City’s financial forecast to ensure revenues and expenditures reflect the most up to date information.
  3. Ensure reliable property tax information and development of a property tax forecasting model.
  4. Provide regular updates to the City’s five-year capital improvement plan that reflect the City’s current financial position.
  5. Update the City’s financial plan on a regular basis providing for an assessment of the City’s debt and refinancing options to achieve savings.
  6. Develop an online instrument administered for employees to make suggestions for increased economies and efficiencies for delivery of City services.
  7. Work with City Council, City staff, school district, county, and neighboring communities to identify opportunities for feasible, efficient, and cost effective collaboration and consolidation.
  8. Consider opportunities to create internal efficiencies by collaborating with other department regarding delivery of services and purchase of supplies.

 

Objective 3:    Maintain a Structurally Balanced Budget With Appropriate Reserve Levels

  1. Consider water utility financial position and develop a rate case study for the water utility.
  2. Consider wastewater utility financial position and determine sustainable rate increases.
  3. Establish a committee of City staff to explore innovative revenue and cost recovery strategies.
  4. Ensure a citywide coordinated effort to seek grant funding.  Grant training opportunities will be pursued and supported.
  5. Report and provide recommendations to council on immediate and long term financial and planning aspects of TIF districts.
  6. Review and develop strategies to ensure that TIF is used to meet the community’s long-term goals.

 

Objective 4:  Reorganization of City departments to meet the current and future goals of the City, re-allocate resources to priority programs, and increase efficiency of operations

  1.    Determine whether existing jobs are meeting department goals.  Consider what factors contribute to the effectiveness of jobs and structure.
  2. Identify a new structure or model that will support the City’s goals, including:  distribution of functions throughout the organization, communication/decision processes, and the attributes of department employees.
  3. Develop re-organizational proposals, including:  timeframe; reasons for re-organization; before and after organizational charts; job descriptions for new and changed positions; a communication plan to identify messages/information needed at all levels of the City.
  4. Develop a roll out plan including:  training needs and resources; determine methods to get feedback during implementation; clarify mission, goals and standards of success; facilitate communication by remaining open to suggestions and concerns; and schedule for regular staff meeting updates.
  5. Look for opportunities to mediate and resolve minor disputes and keep channels of communication open to support brainstorming and consensus decision-making where appropriate.

 

Objective 5:  Pursue grant opportunities to fund infrastructure and amenity projects throughout the City.

  1.  Prepare a community investment program as part of the citywide budget process that identifies new or expanded capital needs and funding strategies.
  2. Continue to develop and implement the City’s Capital Improvement Program and update the inventory on a regular basis.
  3. Determine which projects and priorities are best suited and matched with available grant dollars.  Projects should be prioritized based on the strategic goals and comprehensive plan of the City.
  4. Maintain a grant calendar to ensure deadlines and opportunities are not missed.  Assign grant writing activities well in advance of due dates.
  5. Establish a work group to determine what grant funding to apply for that matches the priorities of the City.

 

Click Here for the 2017 City of Ashland Budget Book