Each student is required to complete a paper, Public Finance and Local Government, which demonstrates effective communication skills, research competence, and technology fluency. The paper should demonstrate the ability to clearly communicate ideas in a professional manner and tone. Research for the paper can be conducted using the UMUC library as a primary source, as well as industry and trade references. The paper should be created using word processing and other software programs to exhibit the student's ability to prepare technology-enhanced documents and/or presentations.
Your paper should address following issues:
How does local governments (here indicate state, county, city/township, or school district) to finance and budget their capital for services? Are there any guideline/law/regulation should be followed (references and citations are required)?
What are major cash sources and major cash uses of the local governments (List top five sources and top five uses of cash flows)?
What do local governments do if there is significant budget surplus or deficit? Any help from Federal government or Stata Governments to local government if the local government/school district could not afford to provide basic public services such as public school education to its residents? Provide an example.
Does local government have right or restriction to levy or impose new tax if the deficit occurs? If so, state the normal procedure or rules should be followed.
The role of property tax.
History and background of property tax for the local governments (here indicate county, city/township, or school district). Provide an example.
How were the property taxable values assessed and the property tax rates determined? Is there any mechanism to adjust the property assessment value and the property tax rate if there is dispute between property owners and local government? Why different areas have different property tax rate?
Summary and suggestions.
Note that interviews with Finance Officers and/or Tax Collectors of local government are encouraged.
In terms of content, the paper should do the following:
Clearly state the issues being addressed.
Evaluate the position(s) taken in the article. Are there particular strengths or weaknesses in the accompanying arguments?
What is your assessment, given the views in the article and other research conducted? Conclusions need to be supported by solid analysis and logical reasoning.
Paper Format Guidelines
The paper should be between 12-18 pages, plus any appendices, exhibits, and references, and prepared using word processing software. Total pages of 20-30 are appropriate.
The paper should consist of the following: Introduction/summary, analysis/critical evaluation and conclusions. In addition to the primary article selected, the student needs to perform additional research to support the analysis/critical evaluation portion of the paper. At least ten sources should be included in the references of your paper.
Appendices, exhibits, graphs, and other references may take the form of spreadsheet and/ or PowerPoint inserts that demonstrate an understanding of technology tools used in financial management and demonstrate student use of technology enhanced presentations.
Properly cited reference sources are required. These may include course material, information from magazines, journals, and reliable online sources such as government website.
Please note that the APA writing style manual is no longer required. Instead, in the Content area, there is a "Writing Resources" folder in the Course Resources module with links to writing style standards to guide your writing. There is also a module in the Content area titled Accessing Tutoring for Graduate Writing with instructions for gaining access to writing tutoring assistance for your discussion papers. I urge you to sign up for this resource and coordinate your draft discussion papers with tutors before submission.
Late papers will be penalized five points for each day after the due date.
Information on Data Sources (if needed)
Research for the paper can be--and is strongly recommended--to be conducted online using the UMUC online library as your primary source. When you download from online library, do not use abstracts, but use full-text articles: the pdf version typically prints out in the same format (e.g., exact page numbers) as the article appeared in the journal. You may find relevant and useful information for your paper from the following UMUC library sources.
Business and Company Resource Center:
Industry rankings, financial data, and investment reports including company profiles, products and brand information, investment reports, statistics, company financial overviews, financial ratios, and business events and trends. Some sources from 1985 to the present.
Business and Industry:
Business, finance, strategy, planning, marketing, and international business journal articles from 1994 to the present.
This is an excellent database for research on company and industry information. In it you will find data about United States and international companies, including history, business, property, subsidiaries, officers, directors, long-term debt, bond ratings, capital stock, income statement, balance sheet, statements of cash flow, exchange and ticker symbol, ratios, annual stock price ranges, stock splits, dividend payment history and more. You'll also retrieve Edgar filings dating back to 1993 and updated daily as well as industry reports on selected industries. A short tutorial is athttp://polaris.umuc.edu/~solson/mergent/Mergent_Excel.htm that you may want to share with faculty and students if that is the type of information they need.
Here's additional information for library support:
UMUC's department of Information and Library Services (www.umuc.edu/library/) provides round-the-clock chat and e-mail reference services. Librarians are available to take you through the actual steps of searching for information: logging in to a database, entering search terms, and retrieving articles.
UMUC's Library Databases and E-Journals website (www.umuc.edu/library/database/) has been improved for easier access. A guide to using UMUC's library databases is available at http://www.umuc.edu/library/database/articles.shtml.
In addition to the above library data sources, you may also find useful financial information from the following Internet Web sources. You may have to register for them (although they are free). In no order of priority:
Reuters (Yahoo will refer you here): http://www.reuters.com;
Edgar (SEC source of 10-K and other required financial reports; this is my saved "Favorite"): http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/srch-edgar; (EDGAR stands for Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval)
Hoovers (general company information): http://www.hoovers.com;
Bloomberg (a good source of interest rate data): http://bloomberg.com/markets/rates/index.htm ;
Moody's (bond ratings): http://www.moodys.com;
Standard and Poors (bond ratings): http://www2.standardandpoors.com;
New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/;
Bondpage (bond information): www.bondpage.com;
Federal Reserve (interest rates): http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/update/;
Bond Marketing Association (trade group) site: http://www.investingbonds.com.