Fees for Municipal Services

Municipalities are entitled to charge a wide variety of fees for governmental expenses. As budgets tighten it is more important than ever to understand what fees can be assessed for permits, programs and services and how to properly charge them.

Q. I know that our municipality charges fees for many of the services that we provide, but I don’t understand who sets these fees or how they may be changed over time. Where can I find that information?

Establishing a Purchasing Cooperative in the Southern New Hampshire Region

In the summer of 2008, New Hampshire municipalities got word that the New Hampshire Departments of Administrative Services (DAS) and Transportation (DOT) were revising the way the state requests bids for purchasing winter road salt. In the past, both departments had guaranteed that cities and towns would pay the same price the state pays for salt.

Laws Governing Inter-Municipal Regional Cooperation

Regional cooperation among New Hampshire towns does not come naturally. On the contrary, from earliest times, towns have cherished their self-sufficiency. In fact, historically, new towns were formed by partition of established towns, because settlers in one part of town wanted independence from those on the other side of town. Over time, each community developed its own ways of doing things, including local government. The opportunities for cooperation with adjoining municipalities were few, and hard to take advantage of.

LGC’s 2010 Regionalization Survey: Summary Report

Across New Hampshire, how many regional, cooperative, sharing agreements exist between two or more towns and cities? What types of inter-municipal arrangements have been created, whereby municipalities may share personnel, services, programs, equipment, or may pool their resources to leverage purchasing power? These questions were addressed this spring by an LGC survey of key local officials and employees.

Municipal/School Cooperative Agreements Offer Valuable Savings Opportunities

A recent regionalization survey by LGC asked: “Are there any cooperative agreements between your municipality and school district(s)?” And, even though nearly all districts in New Hampshire are independent of their respective communities, 40 percent of the respondents said that they do have interlocal agreements and have forged partnership as a way to save money, maximize use of facilities and tap into an area of expertise to avoid duplication.

Bankruptcy and Property Tax Collection

By David R. Connell

Fund Balance: New and Improved

There is probably no single item in a typical state or local government’s financial statements that attracts more attention than fund balance. In February 2009, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued GASB Statement No. 54, Fund Balance Reporting and Governmental Fund Type Definitions. This latest GASB standard will not affect the calculation of fund balance, but will fundamentally alter the various components used to report it.

New Rules for Fund Balance: What GASB 54 Means to New Hampshire Municipalities

The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) recently issued Statement 54, titled “Fund Balance Reporting and Governmental Fund Type Definitions.” A companion article on page 15, authored by Stephen J. Gauthier, director of the technical services center at the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), summarizes the significant changes in the focus, classifications and terminology of fund balance. As he rightly notes, few, if any, sections of a municipality’s financial statements draw as much attention as does the fund balance of the general fund.

Mortgage Foreclosures and Property Tax Liens

In these difficult economic times, one of the impacts will surely be a rise in the number of mortgage foreclosures. When a foreclosure occurs, many things change, including the owner of the property, the occupant of the property and, sometimes, the use of the property. The tax collector and other local officials need to understand the impact of the event on their ability to actually enforce the property tax and water and sewer obligations assessed on the parcel.

Handling Forfeited and Abandoned Property

Local governing bodies and law enforcement agencies are often called upon to deal with various forms of forfeited and abandoned property. However, not all property is the same. It is important for all municipal officials to understand the different sources of this property and the ways in which municipalities can properly use and dispose of it.

Q: What are the different categories of forfeited or abandoned property?

A: The main categories are drug forfeitures, other criminal forfeitures, and abandoned property and real estate.