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Success Story: Maryland Heights Partners with Azavar Government Solutions

Maryland Heights, a west-central suburb of St Louis, Missouri, is a prosperous business and residential community that forms part of the services, manufacturing, trade, and tourism hub of America’s heartland.

Incorporated in 1985, Maryland Heights is home to a population of 27,472 residents (US Census Bureau, April 2010) and welcomes nearly three times as many commuters traveling into the City to work. It lies close to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and the intersection of two major interstate highways, and its 2000+ businesses include Magellan Healthcare, Equinox Workforce Solutions, and Edward Jones Investments. The residents of Maryland Heights enjoy a high standard of living, enhanced by several beautiful parks, thriving shopping developments, and attractions such as Hollywood Casino (the first casino to open in St. Louis County.)

The growth of Maryland Heights began well before its 1985 incorporation, as the post-WW2 building boom saw major development in the area. The construction of I-70 and I-270 fueled new residential and commercial developments in subsequent decades, and its desirable location made it one of the fastest-growing parts of St Louis County in the 1980s. The shortage of available building land led to the construction of more apartment and condominium units as Maryland Heights expanded its economy, and the growth of its commercial base led to the inclusion of a lot of light industrial warehouse space with a plethora of individual tenants.

Fair, Equitable Collection of Fee and Tax Income: A Cornerstone of Good Government.

Striving to maintain a high standard of services for its business and residential population in a competitive economy, the City of Maryland Heights placed great importance on the fair and equitable collection of fee and tax income to support ongoing capital development projects. However, local officials were struggling to keep track of a fast growing number of utility accounts, and the rapid expansion of the municipality and its territory only made it more likely that taxpayer records were infested with errors.


Nevertheless, City administrators recognized that they had a fiduciary duty to residents and their elected officials to do due diligence in insuring that tax receipts were correct. The sheer volume of accounts made it all the more likely that mistakes could creep into systems and records. It was essential to verify that accounts were not miscoded by utility companies and that all residents and businesses paid their fair share of the utility taxes in accordance with the City’s ordinances.

“This is a time-consuming task that calls for data analysis expertise well beyond the scope of our own staff.”

David Watson, Director of Finance, City of Maryland Heights

Maryland Heights’ administrators sought therefore to identify a cost-effective, efficient means of verifying the accuracy of utility taxes remitted to the City.

Alternative Service Delivery via Azavar Government Solutions

They found the solution to their dilemma by outsourcing this highly technical task to a company with the necessary experience and specialist resources at their disposal. City staff attended Azavar’s presentations at meetings of the Government Finance Officers' Association, and learned how other municipalities have successfully partnered with them to maximize their utility tax and fee revenue.

“We learned of the success of other municipalities in uncovering and reclaiming missing tax revenues through working with Azavar.”

David Watson, Director of Finance, City of Maryland Heights

It was the first time that Maryland Heights’ staff had come across a company that devotes its entire business model to helping municipalities verify the accuracy of their tax receipts, and they were impressed by level of success enjoyed by other communities who had worked with Azavar.

Azavar's contingency fee policy was another important factor in persuading the City Council to participate in the company's Audit Program. It meant that there was no financial risk to the City in commissioning a major analysis of address coding records and tax receipts, and the potential benefits from uncovering missing revenue should not be overlooked.

Azavar’s Audit Program Returns Over $80,000 Per Annum to the City of Maryland Heights

Azavar’s staff employed its proprietary audit platform to parse address data and unearth coding errors in Maryland Heights, thereby finding instances in which taxes had not been collected or were improperly remitted. They kept the City fully informed of the progress of their investigations, and assisted them in identifying and obtaining key information from the utility companies.

“As a result of their audit, Azavar has recovered gas tax income totaling $5,856 per annum from Laclede Gas and $77,286.48 per annum for electricity taxes from Ameren.”

David Watson, Director of Finance, City of Maryland Heights

Correcting these errors has not only returned past due income but will also bring in revenue for years to come. The City of Maryland Heights is able to fully demonstrate accountability to its residents by ensuring that there is no shortfall in municipal funding from utility tax receipts.

On Our Technology Expertise...

“Azavar is the only one that has the specialized software, resources, and knowledge to successfully audit each utility and recover the maximum revenue as they have in Roselle.” 
— Mayor Gayle A. Smolinski, Village of Roselle
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