Local Government Education Webinar Series

Webinar 1: Trends in local government revenues and spending in Iowa

The goal of the webinar is to use the Annual Fiscal Condition Reports customized for individual cities and counties in Iowa to examine trends in financial indicators. Impacts the pandemic has had on local government budgets. The webinar will also focus on major legislative changes at the state level and ways in which it has impacted both, revenue and spending. Finally, the webinar is an opportunity to interact with peers and share experiences to allow for peer learning.
Presenters: Biswa Das and Erin Mullenix
What you will learn?

  • How to use the annual city and county fiscal conditions reports published by ISUEO annually.
  • Impact of major legislative changes on local government finances – review of the major legislative changes during 2010-2021
  • Comparison with ‘peers’ – using online interactive tools – interact with peers in breakout sessions to learn about peer experiences

November, 05, Friday, 12-2 pm.
Registration Fee and resources for Participants
Fee is $20 per participant
Each participant will receive

  • Latest customized IGFI annual fiscal conditions report for their city or county
  • Background material on the major legislative changes during 2010-2021
  • Peer-analysis summary for 6 peer-groups – for cities and counties

Who should attend?

  • Elected Officials – Iowa cities and counties
  • Appointed officials (city and county finance, planning, economic development)
  • Community and Economic Development professionals
  • Council of Governments in Iowa, County affiliates in Iowa Locations
  • Chambers of Commerce, Other stakeholder groups

Registration Online
Click here to register online for the webinar. When you register you will have the option to pay by credit card. If you have registered but find you cannot attend, you may send a substitute or cancel your registration; however, no refunds will be made for cancelations received less than 3 business days prior to the workshop. The registration fee is $20 per individual and covers the workshop instruction, and background materials. 

Register here

The Local Government Education Webinar Series

City and County officials, elected and appointed are entrusted with the task making decisions that impact how much revenue is generated and how the spending priorities are set. With changing demographics, state mandated laws, residents attitudes toward taxes, and periodic swings in the economic cycle, it is becoming increasingly complex and challenging to manage local government finances. Improving understanding of the financial situation and trends of cities and counties is critical to the decision-making process. In addition, topics tied to community and economic development continue to be at the core of major decisions that impact the present and future of communities across Iowa. Toward that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Community and Economic Development and Iowa League of Cities will be conducting an annual webinar series focusing on issues and topics important to local governments in Iowa. The webinar series is designed as a continuing professional development opportunity The focus of the webinar series is threefold.  

Back to basics
Refresh and expand conceptual understanding on topics that are relevant to local governments. This is designed as a ‘back-to-basics’ to refresh concepts, principles, best practices, that are at the core of governmental functions and decision making, especially at the local level. Case studies will be included to provide a sense of the innovation and creativity as well as do’s and don’ts at the local government level.

Making sense of data
Utilize data-driven indicators (reports, interactive dashboard) to explain financial condition and trends. Using local financial data, ISU in collaboration with the League publishes customized fiscal condition reports. These resources are city and county specific that allow for peer comparison. New online tools are also available for comparing with peers on specific revenue and spending categories.

Learning from peers
Provide a platform to bring ‘peer-communities’ into one virtual room, bi-monthly, to talk about different aspects of governance, community and finance. We will initiate the session with a topic and allow peer-groups to engage with each other in the breakout rooms. Through a ‘community of communities’ approach, participants can bounce ideas as well as share about creative steps they might be undertaking, in that space. The goal is to facilitate greater and ongoing interaction among local government officials.


County Fiscal Condition Reports, FYE 2020 now available

The IGFI Annual Fiscal Conditions Reports for Counties, FYE 2020 are now available (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/igfi/county-reports). The reports include the latest population estimates for counties, changes in aggregate metro and non-metro county population during 2010-20, estimated using data from U.S. Census for the year 2020. The reports capture the likely and early impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on revenues and spending patterns at the county level. In addition, the legislative changes during 2019-2021 impacting county finances are also included to provide context while interpreting trends in the revenue and spending indicators.

City Fiscal Condition Reports, FYE 2020 published.

The IGFI City Annual Fiscal Conditions Reports, FYE 2020 are now available (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/igfi/city-reports). The reports include the latest population estimates for cities and counties in Iowa, released by the U.S. Census for the year 2020. The reports capture the likely and early impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on revenues and spending patterns at the municipal level. In addition, the legislative changes during 2019-2021 impacting city finances are also included to provide context while interpreting trends in the revenue and spending indicators.

Housing challenges during the pandemic Part 2

The past year has been unlike any that most of us have witnessed during our lives. While natural disasters and pandemics in specific parts of the world have occurred with growing frequency, the global scale and magnitude of COVID-19 will remain as one of the most devastating and disruptive events in world history. No country has suffered as much as the United States, losing over 523,000 lives as of this writing. The economy is in a downward spiral from which it will take a long time to recover to the pre-pandemic levels of January, 2020. The economic slowdown continues to have a big impact on all major parts of the economy. Rental housing has been in the limelight with a lot of media coverage highlighting the difficulty that many tenants have experienced trying to pay rent, the assistance that they received from the federal and state governments, eviction moratoriums, landlord decisions on eviction, etc. Expectedly most of the focus has been on the tenants. As in academic research over time, the current crisis has shed less light on the landlords, the challenges they go through during difficult economic times, and how they navigate through to sustain their businesses.

At the core of the rental housing is the complicated relationship that exists between landlords and tenants. Nothing better captures this than what one landlord had to share in her survey response – “I offered to let them pay a little later because they’re good stewards of my property and I’m not an a……. They have not needed to take me up on that offer.” As we can expect, the nature of this relationship varies depending on the characteristics of the landlords and the tenants. The general perception however has always been one where the tenant has less power and the landlord is the one backed up by different types of regulations they have at their disposal that they can enforce on the tenants at any available opportunity. Stories in the media further this perception by mostly focusing on stories of tenant stress. Seldom does one come across positive stories of landlords assisting tenants in one way or another. The visuals of an eviction are such that it becomes difficult for most to go beyond the tenant to understand the landlord’s situation and perspective. In no other time during the last 50-60 years has this relationship been tested more than during the ongoing pandemic and the resulting impacts on tenants and landlords.

While we have become accustomed to this general stereotyping of the landlord as the ‘enforcer’ who is making it difficult for the tenant at every available opportunity, nothing is farther from the truth. Landlords are not a monolithic group with similar characteristics who behave almost uniformly across the landscape. Landlords are a highly heterogeneous group, dominated by small mom and pop types who own and rent a small number of units. Run as a formal and well-organized business, landlords who own much higher number of properties and units and are usually more visible across communities, especially in large population centers. It is however surprising that housing research has not given more attention to the landlords. As a result, we do not understand the complicated relationship that they have with tenants. Our study is a step in that direction. It goes in depth to understand how landlords have been impacted during the pandemic as well as the types of response they have come up with for their tenants, while trying to keep their businesses afloat.

See https://covidrental.design.iastate.edu/index.html

Housing challenges during the pandemic Part 1

The pandemic has impacted every community across the nation in so many different ways. There has been loss of human life, loss of jobs, continued anxiety over the resurgence and spread of the COVID-19 virus, and political interference in matters relating to public health that have proven costly. The focus of this funded research project is to understand how the pandemic impacted landlords and the rental housing market in select cities across the U.S. Working on this research over the past year has also allowed me to learn so much more about rental housing: the multiple dimensions including the characteristics of property owners, the differences between mom-and-pop owners and larger and more formally organized entities, and most importantly, the vital role that rental housing plays in providing access to housing in every community. I have also learned to appreciate even more the role that landlords play as ‘suppliers’ of rental housing, and the challenges they go through during economic downturns, natural disasters, and now, the pandemic. Having worked in Iowa on housing issues for several years, the one phrase that I was vaguely familiar with was “rental registry.” This ongoing research project was a great opportunity for me to learn more about rental registries. We have investigated what the term means, how they work, how they differ in different places, and most of all, the potential that rental registries have for assisting local government during crises, be it an acute disaster or the ongoing stress of the pandemic. I share here a few things I have learned.

Over the last year, my work has brought me into contact with a number of communities, both small and large. I was particularly struck by a small community with a population of about 3,000 in Central Iowa that has a rental registry. When I asked the local official why the city had created a rental registry, the response was that it allowed the city to establish a communication channel with residential rental property owners. The process to set up the registry was simple. The property owner filled out a form with basic information about their properties and their contact information. They also paid a nominal registration fee. I learned that this fee varies based on location and is often higher in larger metropolitan areas. In its most simple form, the rental registry is a straightforward database of residential rental property owners and their rental properties. While the scope of information may vary by city, this basic information is at the heart of every registry, and is exactly why registries are so important. It provides a mechanism for a city to be in touch with rental housing owners, a very important link that could be used to ensure tenants had a good home and landlords abided by the code to provide safe and sanitary housing. Moreover, the database would allow a city to reach out to them on a variety of matters concerning their residential rental properties.

As a practitioner and educator, I am familiar with how important it is for communities to have affordable rental housing. However, affordability and quality of rental housing do not always go hand-in-hand. As a result, tenants in many instances live in rental properties that are not well maintained, and have to deal with property owners who might be negligent and overlook such matters. In an effort to have safe and sanitary properties, many cities rely on the rental registry as a way to stay in touch with property owners and to ensure regular inspections of properties. Through their rental code, many cities make an annual inspection mandatory. While this may not resolve all issues relating to the condition of the properties, it is a reliable mechanism to assure tenants of decent housing. For example, to address issues of lead in older homes, cities use the registry as a tool to identify and track if appropriate measures have been adopted to mitigate any health effects. This has significant public health implications.

As I spoke with public officials to understand how they were able to collaborate and partner at the local level to provide assistance to tenants and property owners, the rental registry came up frequently. With the scale of the slowdown and the varied scales of assistance that came from the federal, state, and local levels, the registry made the process highly efficient. These cities could better disseminate important information with property owners. While many property owners did not use the governmental assistance, those who did were appreciative of the efforts to keep them in the loop about new programs and policies.

As with everything, rental registries are also a topic of debate. Not everyone supports the idea. While there is a general perception that tenants are for it and property owners are not, that is far from the truth. There are tenants who do like the idea of having a registry to keep landlords accountable, but there are those who are skeptical of it due to privacy concerns. They feel there is too much information being divulged into the public domain about the space they call home. Similarly, there are rental property owners who feel that the registry in essence validates the stereotyping that they are insensitive to the need of tenants and provide rental housing purely for financial gains. A group of rental property owners who support the idea, point out that it provides an opportunity to keep track of the quality of their properties, even if sometimes it means having to spend resources to meet these requirements. And it allows them to hold adjacent property owners accountable when other rental property owners are not maintaining their properties. Overall, the registry is a good concept and we expect more cities across the nation to start having an inventory of their rental properties with contact information for property owners.

*Views expressed in this blog are mine and do not reflect in any shape or form of the institution or my research group partners.

See https://covidrental.design.iastate.edu/index.html

Time for a new beginning?

As the year 2020 rolled in, it seemed like the beginning of yet another decade. As someone working with quantitative data, the end of a decade is an exciting period as it allows to put into perspective how the past 10-year period looked like – on a host of important economic and demographic variables. However, 3 months into the new year, everything seemed to change overnight. What started out as a period of uncertainty about the new virus soon became a hard reality for everyone across the globe. Every community, in every nation across the globe was hit hard. The nation shut down, everything, offices, schools, stores, gyms, parks, even hospitals were suddenly closed and most people were locked inside their homes. The world had not witnessed a crisis like this in a very long time. Then, slowly, everything began to change, again. Just like the pandemic, no one had experienced the new way of working, living, studying, interacting, either. Work from home started slow but within a few months it almost seemed to find a great pace and for most folks, this worked out great. Everyone slowly learnt to becoming productive, sometimes even more than they previously were. Kids adapted to the computer screen quickly and soon their bedrooms and living rooms became their new classrooms. Stores quickly figured our innovative ways of serving their customers, many of whom did not even want to step out of their vehicles. Some economic sectors adapted better than others, primarily due to the nature of the activity, i.e. production versus services. Local governments – city, county, school districts adapted quickly too, to go about their work in the new environment. All of these were ‘new beginnings.’

The new beginning was about the transformation that changed the way we work and live. With almost 17 months since the start of this major shift, there were periods of optimism and despair. As the virus ravaged communities, this was followed by slowdown in the spread of the virus, and new hope. This was again followed by another round of spread. Vaccinations offered a ray of hope and the initial months of 2021 was a rush for finding a place to get the vaccine. While many were enthused to be vaccinated, in equal numbers, folks were skeptical. It boiled down to personal choice about how one understood the virus, the efficacy of the vaccine, and interestingly enough, whether or not this was government overstepping its responsibility to society. And the debate continues as we all work toward the future which will be for a lot of us, different.  If medical experts are to be believed, the virus will linger on into the future. We will need to live with and around it.

As a scholar an practitioner, the past 18 months have been revealing at some many levels. First, it is a glimpse into how the future might look like. As technological progress grows at higher rate, the ability to change becomes faster. This might just be the time that tips our nation and communities to think about the future differently. Think about how we continue to be productive and responsive to big changes. For local governments, especially in Iowa, the next decade will be different, in so many different ways. The latest data from the U.S. Census highlights the demographic changes in Iowa during 2010-20. Overall, Iowa grew at 4.7 %, almost 3 points below the national growth rate. The population growth was primarily concentrated in the urban pockets around the state. Interestingly however, the percentage of non-white population in Iowa grew faster than the white population during the past decade, highlighting the inevitability, which is not just a state, but national trend across the U.S.  This has significant implications for communities that are not just growing, but also declining or holding steady. Especially, the financial repercussions are being felt in significant ways. Local governments are having to share greater burden to generate revenues/resources to continue their services, at the city and county level.

Overall, there is a reset happening in several levels within cities and counties that could have a profound impact on how we all live and work. Perhaps a new beginning?

Annual Fiscal Condition Reports, FYE 2019 are now available

The Annual Fiscal Condition Reports, FYE 2019 for all cities and counties in Iowa are now available on the Iowa Government Finance Initiative (IGFI) website. The individual reports include revenue and expenditure indicators that track fiscal performance of cities in Iowa. They also include legislative updates that impact city finances.

Published annually for the past four years, the reports use the latest US Census data to provide key socioeconomic indicators for each city that provide the context in which the financial data can be understood. Biswa Das, an assistant professor in community and regional planning at Iowa State University, is the IGFI program leader. Co-authors include Chris Seeger, Professor, Landscape Architecture, Bailey Hanson and Erin Mullenix, Iowa League of Cities and ISU Extension and Outreach. Questions can be directed to Biswa Das, bdas@iastate.edu

Fiscal impacts on local governments due to COVID-19 pandemic: What to anticipate?

Major Highlights
• COVID-19 pandemic has created economic conditions not witnessed since the Great Depression in the 1930’s
• The State of Iowa has lost over 250,000 jobs since March, 2020
• Cities are beginning to feel the fiscal effects as a result of the economic slowdown
• Full scale of impacts on city finances yet to be known
• Motivation is to understand how the last recession impacted city finances
• Great recession of 2007-09 created significant financial impacts on Iowa cities
• Using actual financial data, this report tracks trends of a host of revenue indicators
• Data includes both, governmental and proprietary funds, 2007-15
• Data has been broke down into seven categories, based on the Total Annual Revenues
• Not all small cities have low annual revenues – variation is primarily due to presence of business like operations – utilities, hospitals, rec centers etc.
• Major variations across the seven categories.
• Cities with lower annual revenues witnessed gradual revenue decline, although there were years which witnessed increases
• Cities with smaller annual budgets witnessed larger percentage declines
• Cities with the largest budgets held steady through the recession and in the post-recession recovery period
• Reliance on property tax increased across all the categories
• Debt witnessed decline in the period following the recession but increased from 2013 onwards
• Intergovernmental funds helped larger cities more than smaller cities
• Charges for fees increased across all city sizes

Full report available at:


Fiscal Stress after the great recession: A study of rural counties in the U.S.

Biswa Das, an Iowa State University assistant professor of community and regional planning and community development extension specialist, recently completed a national study on the fiscal condition of rural counties in the United States after the end of the Great Recession. Das was the principal investigator on the study — funded by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development/USDA — with co-PIs from four other Midwest land-grant universities: Kansas State University, Michigan State University, University of Missouri and University of Nebraska. The whitepaper, “Fiscal Stress after the Great Recession: A Study of Rural Counties in the U.S.,” is now available.

Capital spending in the United States – growing versus shrinking counties

“Asymmetry in Municipal Government Responses in Growing vs. Shrinking Counties with Focus on Capital Spending,” a working paper co-authored by Biswa Das, an assistant professor in community and regional planning and community development specialist at Iowa State University, and Mark Skidmore, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, has been published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, November 2017. The study compares capital spending during 1972-2012 in municipalities across the United States and examines the asymmetry between growing and declining areas across the nation.

Grant for studying workforce attraction and housing needs in a six-county region in northeast Iowa

ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) recently received an $80,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce (Economic Development Administration) through the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission to undertake a study for a six-county region in northeast Iowa. The focus of the study is to learn of the barriers to and opportunities for attracting a vibrant workforce to the study region in northeast Iowa, with particular emphasis on the housing needs of the study region.

Based on the findings, the study will develop an action plan for improving workforce attraction and the housing supply in the study region. Co-PIs for the study include Biswa Das, Iowa State University assistant professor of community and regional planning and community development extension specialist; Liesl Eathington, an assistant scientist in economics; Nora Ladjahasan, an assistant scientist with the Institute for Design Research and Outreach; and Gary Taylor, an associate professor of community and regional planning and director of ISU Extension and Outreach CED.

Outstanding practice in Community engagement

 The ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development Housing Needs Assessment Team of Biswa Das, Abbie Gaffey and Jon Wolseth received the 2018 ISU Extension and Outreach Outstanding Practice in Community Engagement Award at the ISU Extension and Outreach Annual Conference 2018 Monday, March 26, at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus.

The three were recognized for its work in partnering with local communities to gather information on housing needs, empowering community leaders and providing guidance as to how communities can more efficiently serve their citizens. The award citation indicates “this team has been successful in educating and empowering communities to make their own choices and decisions based on data that they understand, help to collect, discuss, disseminate and evaluate.”

Das, an ISU assistant professor of community and regional planning, Gaffey and Wolseth are all community development extension specialists.



Annual Fiscal Conditions Reports, FYE, 2017 available

The Annual Fiscal Conditions Report, FYE 2017, for all cities in Iowa is now available on the Iowa Government Finance Initiative (IGFI) website. The individual reports include revenue and expenditure indicators that track fiscal performance of cities in Iowa. They also include legislative updates that impact city finances.

Published annually for the past four years, the reports use the latest US Census data to provide key socioeconomic indicators for each city that provide the context in which the financial data can be understood. Biswa Das, an assistant professor in community and regional planning at Iowa State University, is the IGFI program leader. Co-authors include Chris Seeger, Professor, Landscape Architecture, Bailey Hanson and Cindy Kendall, ISU Extension and Outreach. Questions can be directed to Biswa Das, bdas@iastate.edu


The ‘Dark-Store’ Strategy – Potential Implications for Community Economic Development in Iowa

Over the past few, a number of states across the nation have been dealing with what has come to be known as the ‘dark-store’ strategy. The phrase ‘dark-store’ which was coined by the property assessment community refers to the method used to assess the value of a commercial property. Across the nation, there are growing instances of big-box retailers challenging the accuracy of valuation methods used by assessors. In recent past, they have been successful at not just questioning the accuracy, but have been successful at changing the methods to effectively lower the valuation estimates, thereby paying lower amounts of property tax. “Big-box retailers argue that the market value of their commercial property should be the sale price of similarly sized but vacant retail buildings. They point out that these buildings are extremely hard to sell as-is once the retailer moves out. They tend to sit empty for long periods. Thus, the assertion is, they aren’t worth nearly as much as local tax assessors have traditionally assumed in valuing the property.” (Governing.com, Sept, 2016)

Effectively, the dark-store strategy reduces the value of commercial property, which in turn reduces the amount of property tax that the owner has to pay. In Michigan, where this practice is already in place has created significant shortfalls in local government revenues leaving them stranded to finding alternate revenue sources to fund services. In addition, there is evidence that the retail community is interested to pursue this in other states including Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin (NACO, 2016).

It is common knowledge that local governments (cities, counties and schools) in Iowa rely on property tax as a major revenue source. For example, for the year 2015, City of Carroll and Carroll County earned approximately 25 and 36 percent of their revenues from property taxes respectively. In its most simplistic form, property tax revenue is determined using two variables, the taxable property base and the property tax levy rate. The taxable base is the portion of the total property assessment that is done by assessors in every county. Depending on the classification of property – residential, commercial, industrial and commercial, all or portion of the market value of the property is used for property tax calculation purposes. Three common types of methods used by property assessors to arrive at market value include the market data or comparable sales approach, income approach and the cost or summation approach. Once the market value has been determined, the rollback or assessment ratio, determined by the state is used to calculate the assessed value of a property. This value is used along with the property tax levy rate to arrive at the amount of property tax that is owed by a property owner. While residential property accounts for a large portion, the rest three classes of property are as important, especially in urban areas and small regional hubs, as well as in rural parts of Iowa. Commercial property, which includes retail establishments form a key group that contributes to the tax base. The proposed dark-store strategy, if implemented will significantly reduce the amount of property tax that a retail store owner would have to pay.

To get a sense of the property tax base in Iowa, figure 1 illustrates the fiscal capacity for each of the 99 counties in the state and provides a visual comparison.  Fiscal capacity is an index to assess the strength of a government’s (state and local) tax base. Given the importance of property taxes for local governments, the index represents the relative strength of property tax base that exists in each county. Property valuation data for 2014 for all 945 cities in Iowa were used in creating the index and the value in each county is an average of the fiscal index of all the cities that reside within that county. A county that has an index value of greater than 100 has a relatively stronger tax base and those that have less than 100 have a relatively lower property tax base to generate property tax revenue. The cities were grouped into six categories based on population size to create the index. As the index represents a value relative to a group, the group’s index value is 100.

Given the complexity of property tax assessment and the differences in appraisal laws between states, it has been tricky for lawmakers to come up with legislative solutions that can assist local governments to respond to this situation. While some states have already done and others are considering laws to protect the local governments, places where this strategy has been implemented are already feeling the financial stress.

Given the power vested upon the local governments, they have little scope for increasing tax rates. In Iowa, the state through legislation and tax and expenditure limitations dictates what local governments can and cannot do by placing caps on revenue generation and spending increases. These limitations often tie the revenue and expenditure growth to the rate of population growth.  Therefore, the dark-store strategy, if implemented in Iowa will significantly add to the fiscal stress that local governments currently face. In addition, local governments in Iowa are currently dealing with a new law (SF 295) that has put a dent into their budgets. While the state is backfilling them to compensate for the revenue losses, it is not a promise in perpetuity and it might not be very long when cities, counties and school districts might have to find additional revenue sources. On top of this, the dark-store strategy, if implemented will make their financial situation worse.

Under such circumstances, local governments will perhaps need to make unpopular choices – cutting services or laying off employees or a combination of both. In addition, it is likely they will not be able to pursue major capital improvement projects. Overall, the dark store strategy if adopted in Iowa could alter the trajectory of community and economic development efforts that communities pursue, in significant ways.

Questions can be addressed to bdas@iastate.edu

Technology and local governments

Much is being written about self driven cars, electric cars and how transportation will look like in the not so distant future. I was reading an article on how large cities are slowly moving toward self driven cars and the impact it will have on the use of private cars. Assuming that such a transportation model is acceptable and becomes a reality in urban settings, I was struck by the impact it will have on government finance. Transportation departments rely on parking fees for a good portion of their budget and having auto driven cars replacing private cars would mean a fall in parking revenues. Based on a recent study, the largest 25 cities in U.S. collected approximately $5 billion in transportation related revenues including gas tax, traffic citations and parking fees. For example, the city of Chicago anticipates a 10-15 percent fall in revenue once the self-driven cars become an acceptable mode of transport in their metropolitan area. Combined with the push to have more electric cars on the road which translates into lower levels of gas tax, the future certainly could put a dent in the revenue stream cities receive from the transportation sector.

Recently I was conducting a financial management workshop for local government officials when we got into a great discussion on how technology is helping propel local governments to deliver more effective services. It is allowing for much closer interaction between government and people at the local level thereby improving customer access to quick information and oftentimes reducing the cost of delivering host of services. While technology is a broad term, for local governments it involves both hardware and software as well as technology adoption by its constituents or residents. and its use depending on the type of service. For example, with the use of more automated machines allowing patrons to borrow, renew, pay fines, and a host of other services, public libraries in many places are able to provide services with much lower costs, thereby offering similar services at a lower cost or more/better services for the same cost. In this example, cost savings could translate into other resources that libraries may provide to it patrons.

However, related to all of these, a new issue is slowly evolving that is proving to be a cause of concern for local governments. With growing use of technology, it is leading to decline in revenues for local governments that have been a reliable source for a long time. With more energy efficient appliances, self-driven cars, higher mileage per gallon of gas, electric cars, consumers are having to pay less to the providers of the services, usually city or county governments. While it is still unknown how the future will eventually look like, it goes without saying that technology is both a boon and could become a bane for local governments across the nation.