More than 500 members joined an MMA webinar yesterday to learn about the tools available from the Division of Local Services’ robust website and YouTube channel.

Panelists from DLS showcased the wide array of interactive and on-demand materials, and discussed how to use the wealth of publicly available municipal finance data to identify fiscal trends and craft informed financial policies.

Sean Cronin, senior deputy commissioner of Local Services, opened the session with an overview of DLS resources for appointed and elected officials across the Commonwealth.

Kirsten Shirer, director of the Data Analytics and Resources Bureau, gave a strategic overview of the DLS website, including bureau-specific services, staff contacts, and postings of upcoming municipal events. She also showcased “most requested” content, including the Municipal Finance Training and Resource Center, which categorizes resources by topic, municipal role, and process. The Municipal Databank offers financial, demographic and economic data for each of the state’s cities and towns.

Director of Administration Dan Bertrand encouraged attendees to subscribe to DLS Alerts and highlighted resources for new municipal officials. He also discussed specific resources for different municipal roles, as well as visual municipal finance tools.

Financial Management Resource Bureau Chief Zack Blake highlighted municipal finance tools and templates by function, starting with the debt service calculator and the property tax calculator. Blake also highlighted the power of the financial forecasting template and community comparison report, which serve as a one-stop shop for local officials looking to benchmark different metrics.

Lisa Krzywicki, deputy director of the Data Analytics and Resources Bureau, discussed the division’s Cherry Sheet estimates, which are continually updated as the state budget process unfolds. The Cherry Sheet web area highlights local aid trends over the past 13 years, including Chapter 70 (education), Unrestricted General Government Aid, student transportation, charter school tuition reimbursements, and library aid.

MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Jackie Lavender Bird moderated a question and answer session, during which panelists offered real-time support and demonstrated how to use management tools and calculators on fiscal inquiries submitted by webinar attendees.

Division of Local Services Subscription and Bookmark Links (2400K PDF)


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