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Enhancing Revenues for the City of Rock Island

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River 85 miles east of Cedar Rapids, the City of Rock Island, Illinois is one of the "Quad Cities" that straddle the border between Illinois and Iowa. Its situation gave it a strategic importance in the 1800s when the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad built the first bridge over the Mississippi and brought industrial investment to the area. Rock Island became a major center for military weapons manufacturing, and today the Rock Island Arsenal remains by far the largest single employer in the City.

Rock Island Fights Back Against a Sluggish Economy

More recently, Rock Island suffered from a degree of urban blight that characterized much of the 1970s and 1980s, and the business disinvestment brought about by a nationwide recession caused widespread unemployment and a shrinking population.

The City fought back with a program of new construction, community development, and green initiatives to revitalize opportunities for businesses and improve services for residents.

"Our main focus will continue to be keeping Rock Island in great financial shape with an extremely strong focus on economic development. Even though the past few years have been financially challenging for many cities and states, Rock Island continues to have a AA credit rating, a balanced budget, we pay our bills on time; we have a 90 day reserve and watch our expenses closely."

Mayor Dennis E. Pauley, State of the City Address 2013 

Maximizing Revenues As an Aid to Recovery

Like every other municipality facing the tough choices and decisions brought about by a post-downturn economy, the City of Rock Island needs to make sure it receives every penny it is due from sources such as utility franchise fees and taxes and sales taxes. Having seen the benefits that many neighboring communities had reaped from working with Azavar Government Solutions, the City engaged us to conduct a range of audits to help them maximize their municipal revenues.

"We knew Azavar Government Solutions staff from Illinois City and County Managers Association (ILCMA) conference meetings, and we also knew that many cities had already derived significant financial benefit from their services, and that the company has the positive reputation of getting good results for municipalities."

John Thorson, Administrative Services Director, City of Rock Island

Azavar Government Solutions's Expertise in Address Audits
 

An important part of Azavar Government Solutions'  services is our address audit expertise, which brings a unique combination of technological skills and experience to the field. We offer an alternative service delivery approach to municipalities, allowing them to maximize their revenues without having to devote valuable staff energies to a complex and time-consuming task. Our team began by using our proprietary address audit software to look at whether or not Rock Island was fully receiving its utility taxes from its electric and gas utilities. We found errors and returned $6,000 per annum to the City.

Verifying Sales Tax Receipts

We then turned our attention to the City's sales tax revenues, applying these auditing techniques to ensure that all the businesses operating within their corporate boundaries matched the annual taxpayer location address list provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue. By outsourcing this annual responsibility, City officials rely on Azavar Government Solutions' expertise to complete the task efficiently, quickly, and with greater cost-efficiency than could be achieved internally. We discovered that while the City's sales tax receipts for the current year were correct, there were compliance issues involving some businesses that may be taxable in the future but were missing from state sales tax rolls. By correcting these business coding errors, we helped Rock Island maximize its future revenue.

Rock Island Finds Missing Income from Cable Franchise Fees

When Azavar Government Solutions' team analyzed remittances from the City's cable service provider, we discovered underpayment due to the City as a result of multiple address coding errors and financial computation errors. We helped the City to negotiate a settlement resulting in the repayment of over $133,000 in past due cable franchise fees, thus increasing its revenues by approximately $13,000 per year.

"Our community will continue to benefit in the years to come from the ongoing revenues that were uncovered by Azavar Government Solutions' investigation."

John Thorson, Administrative Services Director, City of Rock Island

As well as supporting Rock Island's efforts to collect past due funds and correct any errors going forward, Azavar Government Solutions' expert consultants also quarterbacked the City's efforts to renew its cable franchise. This was finally completed on terms favorable to the City after more than a year of negotiations.

"This is an area which requires specialized knowledge and experience, so it was an advantage for us to work with a company that has a thorough understanding of how cable franchises work and relevant aspects of state law, to guide us through the entire process."

John Thorson, Administrative Services Director, City of Rock Island

 The Hidden Value of Rock Island's Municipal Audit

Although extra income can make an enormous difference to a municipality's ability to balance its budget, the benefit of the Azavar Government Solutions program is not only measured in terms of monies returned. Our partnership with Rock Island enabled them to realize cost-efficiencies and savings in terms of staff time spent on essential monitoring of compliance.

"Azavar Government Solutions took control of the work and achieved these results with minimal demands on our staff. They maintained great communication with city officials, made excellent recommendations, and kept us well informed about the status of the project."

John Thorson, Administrative Services Director, City of Rock Island

Azavar Government Solutions provided a convenient and timesaving way for Rock Island to ensure accurate assessment and collection of future as well as past revenues that will benefit its infrastructure, capital improvement, and community development programs.

On Increasing Our Clients' Competitive Advantage...

“Azavar Government Solutions brought a one-of-a-kind and valuable service to Woodridge by auditing our utility taxpayers. They have been very successful in adding revenue to our rolls.” 
— William Murphy, Mayor , Village of Woodridge
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