Opposition to change is often a lack of understanding about why change is necessary.
Like most cities in Florida, the housing market collapse of 2008 forced City management to balance budgets by delaying capital investments and relying on cash windfalls from property sales and other nonrecurring sources. When it became clear that their financial projections were becoming increasingly unsustainable—especially after hurricane damages and additional federal cost mandates—the City brought us in to prepare a diagnostic analysis of the general fund’s financial sustainability. We set to work using our proprietary financial analysis and modeling system, FAMS.
With FAMS, our team simulates the future consequences of present decisions and evaluates alternative-solution scenarios. This lets a community assess risk and work towards their best-fit solution in real time. Unfortunately, what we discovered was that the annual escalation of costs would outpace revenue growth beginning in the 2019 fiscal year and persist throughout the 10-year projection period. Collaborating with city management, we conducted several townhall style meetings with City employee groups. Using the live modeling capabilities of FAMS, we laid out how the City had reached this critical point and made the case for corrective action.
Although the chosen solution—limiting salary increases and normalizing City employee contributions to health and wellness with the national average—was difficult, the transparency provided by the financial model helped the City and the City employees understand the basis of the solution, forming a sense of buy in. This measure created a reliable, recurring percentage of cash flow that would balance the City’s budget over the next decade.
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