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SHERIDAN — Sheridan County was one of four municipalities in Wyoming to receive a “high-performance” mark in an analysis of more than 6,300 city and county governments across the nation. A high-performance government is a city or county that ranks in the top 10 percent of all municipalities studied in the analysis.
This year a score of 58 or better placed a government in the top 10 percent. Sheridan County scored a 65. Other Wyoming municipalities that earned the high-performance ranking were the city of Douglas (67), the town of Greybull (64) and Park County (73).
Conducted annually by Municipal Analysis Services, Inc., out of Austin, Texas, the overall “Governments of Your State” study statistically analyzes 650 different indicators of government efficiency.
Those 650 calculations are then narrowed to approximately 25 calculations to come up with the scores for the high performance index, Municipal Analysis Services President Greg Michels said.
High-performance scores particularly analyze fiscal responsibility, use of taxes, services provided and employee productivity. Cities and counties are compared with similar-sized municipalities within their region, so the overall score is a score within its peer group, Michels said.
“A 65 in its peer group is a fairly good score, which means it’s doing a lot to use the financial resources that it has,” Michels said about Sheridan’s score on the high-performance index.
“The framework for the score is theoretical,” Michels added. “We’re not saying, ‘This is what you should do,’ but rather, ‘This can be done because other governments in your peer group have been able to do it.’”
The analysis is not a measure of solvency, Michels said. It is a measure of how a government uses its financial resources, and an indication of areas where it may find more resources or may need to lessen its demand on a particular resource.
For example, Sheridan County scored a 6 percent on the amount of property taxes it collects as a percentage of its total general revenue, meaning that 5 percent of similar municipalities collect less revenue from property taxes and 94 percent collect more revenue from property taxes. Comparatively, Park County scored a 56 percent on the amount of property taxes it collects as a percentage of its total general revenue, meaning that property taxes in Park County are likely higher than in Sheridan County, Michels said.
“Every city has its own reflection of what people want,” Michels said. “In this situation, low property taxes is a reflection of what people want. It’s not for us to say that’s a good or bad thing. It’s just something the government can look at when examining how it uses its resources.”
Michels said a lot of governments come to him looking over their shoulder to see if they are like Detroit, which scored a 33 this year. They want to know if there is anything they can change now while they are able rather than when they are in dire straits and are forced to change.
“We’ve cut our budget by almost 40 percent since 2009, but I think we’ve done a good job at that,” County Commissioner Steve Maier said. “I hope this study reflects that we’ve managed our resources effectively and efficiently.” Maier credited the county’s elected officials — county attorney, county clerk, sheriff, etc. — for their effective management and said he feels the elected officials and the county commissioners work well together to provide high quality services with available resources.
“I think we’ve done pretty well. I think the functions we provide are of good quality and hopefully the public is well served by what we do,” Maier said. “Obviously it’s always nice to be recognized in a positive way.”