by Walter Kraft, Published December 21, 2011
YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University College of Business has developed a new partnership program for Michigan municipalities to help them improve the transparency of their financial information for their citizens using the new state financial reporting guidelines. Those guidelines include suggestions for local governments to produce a citizens’ guide to the community’s finances as well as a financial performance dashboard.
Eastern Michigan has established a work team of graduate accounting students, under faculty direction, to develop the financial reports at no-cost to partner communities. The reports that can be developed include the citizens’ guide, the performance dashboard and the Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR).
Development of a citizens’ guide and performance dashboard were required by the state to qualify for the Economic Incentive Vitality Program (EVIP), which was announced as part of Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State message in March. The EVIP replaced the revenue sharing system in favor of an incentivized program designed to encourage municipalities to pursue best practices and cost-control measures. While the deadline for local communities to participate in EVIP expired October 1, many municipalities remain interested in providing more robust financial reporting to their citizens.
“This is a great opportunity to help local communities, while also providing an outstanding real-world experience for our students,” said David Mielke, Dean of the Eastern Michigan University College of Business. “Local communities would like to provide financial reports that anyone can understand. Our students can help them do that.”
The students involved have completed a graduate governmental accounting course and have experience preparing these reports. The project is led by Professor William LaGore. A pilot project last spring resulted in successful partnerships with the cities of Adrian, Ann Arbor, Canton Township, Tecumseh, Wixom and Ypsilanti. Examples of the work can be seen at the City of Wixom and City of Adrian websites. The Michigan Municipal League is helping to notify Michigan communities about the opportunity.
“This cooperative effort is an example of the type of partnering that can be fostered across the state,” said State Treasurer Andy Dillon. “Not only can local communities benefit through transparency offered by such programs, this also provides a real world learning experience for students.”
Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business has approximately 2,500 undergraduate students pursuing one of 12 majors and 845 graduate students pursuing either an MBA, Masters of Information Systems, Masters of Integrated Marketing Communications, Masters of Human Resources and Organizational Development or Masters of Accounting.
To learn more about the College of Business, please visit the website at http://www.cob.emich.edu/