Across the country, local public entities find themselves in the same predicament: trying to do more with fewer resources, smaller staffs, and greater demands.
In today’s environment, these issues are virtually universal, in cities, towns, villages, and school districts within a given county—and adjacent counties.
On top of these constraints is a steady stream of unfunded federal and state mandates that public entities must implement, with ever fewer dollars to cover day-to-day overhead expenses.
It should come as no surprise that more and more entities are looking to work together to eliminate duplication of services and reduce unnecessary overhead. As a result, shared-services initiatives are gaining popularity, ranging from public works, public safety, self-insured healthcare plans, and cooperative purchasing programs.
The ability to join forces can have an immediate and beneficial financial impact. The one impediment is jurisdiction of control. Entities involved in sharing services should have a long-term perspective of outcome and address this clearly upfront—and in writing.
The need to consider or expand shared services may not be desirable, but rather an absolute necessity to survive. This is especially true for smaller entities within larger jurisdictions. In the minds of taxpayers, a proper business attitude is to be applied, rather than an emotional wrestling match over control.
Under a shared-services agreement, the concern of lost identity should not be raised; the initiative is a joint effort in providing/receiving services for the participants’ mutual benefit. In general, the initiatives should focus on saving money and/or generating revenue.
Here are 5 financial shared-service initiatives to consider:
1. Conducting a universal banking services Request for Proposal. A banking RFP would create a large volume of buying power to use in negotiating competitive pricing on bank fees and deposit rates. A collaboration like this could include villages, towns, cities, school districts, and the county government, all at once. The end result could lead to hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in savings and or additional interest income. rfpPrep® by three+one® is the first-ever electronic banking RFP (Request for Proposal) service, entirely online and specifically designed to facilitate the bidding of banking services. Visit our rfpPrep site for more resources.
2. County governments can be a source of purchasing the short-term paper of related entities as they come to market. As local villages, towns, and school districts issue Bond Anticipation Notes (BAN) or Tax Anticipations Notes (TAN), a county could be a bidder of such notes, as allowed by legal statutes, for investment purposes. As such, the county can be an additional bidder, helping to lead to lower rates and greater competitive pricing on cash for investment.
3. Counties can provide additional resources and expertise through their finance offices in helping smaller local entities identify and manage their cash. It would still be expected that associated entities would control their cash, but alleviate the stress associated in identifying and investing cash.
4. Combining technology efforts can be effective and beneficial both in financial and banking transactions, especially in the flow and protection of collections and payments.
5. Finally, consider consolidating tax collection. In the future, all tax collections will be automated. The need to have a counter or have the control of check collection will become obsolete. Having one point of contact for tax payment and options payment can lead to major personnel and banking cost savings.
Sharing services can be pathway to strengthening the financial well-being of all those involved. Let three+one help you in setting up and managing your shared-services initiatives. What may seem as a major undertaking can be simplified with through our proprietary liquidity analysis and modeling capabilities.
As always, our mission is to help public entities to do more in serving their communities.