Tips to help municipal officials assess financial health and head off fiscal crisis:

• Identify volatile revenue sources, such as tax and criminal fine revenues

• Produce externally audited financial reports annually

• Create five-year financial forecasts; monitor with quarterly reports

• Hire experienced staffers, offer staff training and evaluate employee performance

• Appoint community members to a budget review committee

• Discuss financial concerns openly with citizens, employees, religious and nonprofit groups and others

• Evaluate community priorities to identify essential city services

• Research state aid options

Need help? Know where to turn:

• Financial advisors and management consultants

• International City/County Management Association

• Government Finance Officers Association

• National League of Cities

• National Association of Counties

• Other local governments

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