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O'Fallon Works With Azavar Government Solutions to Enhance Its Municipal Revenues

The City of O'Fallon, IL is one of the fastest growing communities in the Metropolitan St. Louis region, with a population of over 29,000 residents that has increased by nearly 30% in the past decade.  Following the expansion of the Interstate 64 Highway, O'Fallon experienced a boom in construction in the 1990s, and today more than half its housing is less than 15 years old.

Mayor Gary L. Graham and the O'Fallon City Council are committed to maximizing municipal revenues, maintaining a high standard of financial management, and providing excellent services to its residents and businesses. As a reflection of the City's fiscal responsibility, Standard and Poor's has given O'Fallon a bond rating up to AA

O'Fallon's Challenge: How to Ensure It Receives Every Penny It Is Due?

O'Fallon has experienced significant growth over the past two decades, but the municipality did not find a proportionate increase in revenues from their utility franchisees and taxpayers. This income was badly needed to fund important infrastructure and capital development, particularly at a time when many other sources of income were declining because of the recession.

Local government officials suspected that the apparent shortfall in these utility revenues could be because addresses in recently annexed areas were missing from taxpayer records.

The City also faced key challenges in uncovering the extent of the problem when dealing with Ameren, their energy utility:

"They won't share their list of who they are collecting taxes from with us, so it seems as if a good number of people have fallen through the cracks."

Dean Rich, City Finance Director, City of O'Fallon

In the wake of industry consolidation, utility companies are growing even larger and have fewer resources available to work with local government, thus making it harder for City administrators to conduct a complete audit. Furthermore, O'Fallon's staff did not possess the experience or technical expertise to complete an exhaustive investigation of the issue, and state legislation had recently been introduced that allowed the City only a short window of opportunity in which to file claims for any missing tax revenues.

O'Fallon Partners With Azavar Government Solutions

O'Fallon chose to engage Azavar Government Solutions to conduct a comprehensive revenue audit in order to uncover the extent of the problem and correct any errors, recover past due taxes, and ensure accurate remittance of fees and taxes going forward. The City understood the benefit of outsourcing this demanding work to a company with specialist knowledge, expertise, and resources that Azavar Government Solutions offers its clients.

"Because this is such a detailed and technically complex task, the city employed Azavar Government Solutions to crosscheck the accuracy of address data held by utility providers and track tax and franchise fee receipts."

Gary L. Graham, Mayor, City of O'Fallon

 Not being certain of the outcome of the audit in advance, O'Fallon also saw the wisdom of minimizing its risk by hiring a company that charges a contingency fee.

Azavar Government Resolves Critical Errors in O'Fallon's Tax Receipts

Azavar Government Solutions has conducted more than 500 audits and worked with over 100 municipalities, so we were well versed in resolving the problems facing O'Fallon's officials. We used our proprietary geocoding software to quickly pore through vast quantities of taxpayer data, and in the process we uncovered over 2,600 instances where addresses had been incorrectly coded and were therefore not being taxed – with some mistakes relating to addresses that had long been incorporated within the City's boundaries.

As well as uncovering and correcting errors in Ameren's address database, Azavar Government Solutions helped O'Fallon to establish a protocol for making certain that annexations are properly recorded with utility providers and ensuring correct assessment and remittance of tax payments in the future.

Azavar Government Solutions Brings Additional Benefits to O'Fallon

The City of O'Fallon also recognized the benefit that comes from partnering with other municipalities through our Municipal Audit Program, learning from the experiences of other local government officials and City Managers, and working together to share best practices.

"As a Past-President of the Illinois Municipal League, I understand the importance of bringing together Mayors and Cities from all corners of the state, especially for an issue as important as protecting and enhancing municipal revenues."

Gary L. Graham, Mayor, City of O'Fallon

 Working with Azavar Government Solutions has not only provided O'Fallon with much-needed income at a time when municipal budgets everywhere are under pressure – it has also helped it ensure proper collection of all taxes and fees for its rapidly growing population, which is also important as it renegotiates each utility’s franchise for use of the City’s rights of way.

"I recommend Azavar Government Solutions to other municipalities because they provide a valuable service to local governments by supporting our efforts to maximize our municipal revenues … Their findings provide O'Fallon with about $250,000 a year of much-needed income at a time when many of our other revenue sources have been declining because of the recession. "

Gary L. Graham, Mayor, City of O'Fallon

 

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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