Just what is an STMP or “Strategic Management Planning Program” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Surprisingly enough, this is a tool that many municipalities could use to get back into a solid position financially and operationally. Unfortunately, too few are taking advantage of this opportunity to get some clear direction and at a greatly reduced cost.
The DCED, “Department of Community and Economic Development”, provides matching grant funds to help municipalities of all types and populations develop comprehensive multi-year financial plans and establish short and long-term financial objectives. Grants can be up to $200,000 and you are responsible for only fifty percent of total project costs. In some extreme hardship cases, that number may be reduced. Your final product is a clear plan for the development and implementation of a multi-year financial management program and strategies that will right the municipal ship. The plan usually takes between 4-6 months to complete.
The STMP funding is used for a number of different needs. You’ll need a professional consultant who will guide you through the development, adoption, and implementation. These steps will help to ensure the financial vitality of the municipality. This will typically include a multi-year financial management plan, improved management practices and/or financial administration procedures, multi-municipal or regional intergovernmental cooperation initiatives/cost-sharing strategies, and lastly, other activities recommended in the plan, which includes training for local officials. Municipalities can also apply for subsequent STMP grant funding to support the implementation of recommendations made in the initial multi-yea plan.
As public officials can quickly come and go, particularly in a community faced with some challenges, training is vital in sustaining a more vibrant fiscal environment for the local government. A seasoned supervisor or councilperson with proper training can quickly rise to the top to provide the leadership necessary to carry out the plans provided and quickly see what difference a defined plan can do the community.
It is important to note that you do not have to be in a seriously distressed situation to utilize these funds. DCED strongly emphasizes that this program is designed for municipalities of all sizes and financial conditions. Multi-year planning benefits all governments, not just those experiencing fiscal challenges.
We encourage you to reach out to DCED and learn more about this excellent opportunity to make significant changes. Keystone Municipal Solutions is well versed in the process and stands ready to provide you the level of expertise required to make this happen in a timely manner. Our experienced team will do all it can to provide you with a strategic plan that will bring about financial stability and a vision for the future of your township or borough. It only takes that first call to learn more about it, let us work together and “fire this thing up, we’re doing an STMP.”
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 32 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.