Syllabus for MSP-674

MUNICIPAL FINANCE


COURSE DESCRIPTION

Welcome to Municipal Finance (MSP-674). This course examines the budget function and process of county, municipal, and state finance systems, the methods used to determine the needs of the community and individual agency and resource allocation to meet those needs, measuring the capability and benchmarking of the agency, preparation and presentation of the budget, selling the budget and needs to the county or city administration.

 

Advisory: You should have knowledge in a course equivalent to ACC-101: Principles of Financial Accounting with a grade of C or better. You are responsible for making sure that they have the necessary knowledge.

COURSE TOPICS

  1. Financial reporting for local governmental organizations
  2. Budgeting methods and techniques for local governmental entities
  3. Evaluation methods for measuring financial performance for local governmental entities
  4. Financial reporting and evaluation of hospitals and other health care providers, with emphasis on government-owned or affiliated organizations
  5. Auditing standards and requirements for municipalities

COURSE OBJECTIVES

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the role of government in providing for goods and services to citizens.
  2. Evaluate how such goods and services are funded through taxation, grants, and other sources.
  3. Evaluate the impact of alternative financing methods to a specific activity or program.
  4. Develop a budget for a governmental entity, including relevant accounting statements.
  5. Review and analyze municipal financial statements, using ratios and other forms of metric evaluation.
  6. Analyze nonfinancial activities through appropriate evaluation methods.

COURSE MATERIALS

You will need the following textbook to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

  1. Paul A. Copley. Essentials of Accounting for Governmental and Not-for-Profit Organizations. 10th edition. McGraw Hill.

ISBN-13: 978-0-07-352705

COURSE STRUCTURE

Municipal Finance is a three-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: Financial Accounting for Governmental Organizations and Financial Reporting

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 2, 4

  1. Module 2: Budgeting for Municipalities

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 4, 5, 6

  1. Module 3: Modified Accrual Accounting; Accounting for the General and Special Revenue Funds

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 2, 3, 5

  1. Module 4: Accounting for Capital Project, Debt Service, Proprietary and Fiduciary Funds

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 2, 4

  1. Module 5: Accounting for Hospitals and Other Health Care Providers

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 3, 4

  1. Module 6: Auditing, Tax-Exempt, Organizations, and Evaluating Performance

Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 5, 6

ASSESSMENT METHODS

For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, take a proctored midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to an ungraded but required Introductions Forum in Module 1, Municipal Finance features six graded online discussions. Each module contains one discussion forum.  

Written Assignments

Municipal Finance requires you to submit a written assignment to your mentor for evaluation and grading in each module. The written assignments consist of financial analysis problems taken from your textbook.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the written assignment questions before you begin each module. Conversely, be sure to complete all relevant readings before answering the questions. Before you begin to write, you might find it helpful to outline your answers, listing points you wish to make and the examples that support your ideas.

Do not copy answers from the textbook. Creative thinking and your own wording are important aspects of an effective answer. When you have completed an assignment, proofread your answers for correct grammar, spelling, etc., and be certain you have answered the questions completely.

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

Midterm Examination

You are required to take a proctored midterm examination.

For the midterm, you are required to use the College's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

The examination is a closed-book, comprehensive examination that covers material from Modules 1, 2, and 3. The exam is two hours long and consists of multiple-choice questions and essay questions.

Exams are administered in the Examinations section of the course Web site. Consult the course Calendar for the official dates of your midterm exam week.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

  1. Looking up any answer or part of an answer in an unauthorized textbook or on the Internet, or using any other source to find the answer.
  2. Copying and pasting or in any way copying responses or parts of responses from any other source into your online test. This includes but is not limited to copying and pasting from other documents or spreadsheets, whether written by yourself or anyone else.
  3. Plagiarizing answers.
  4. Asking anyone else to assist you by whatever means available while you take the exam.
  5. Copying any part of the exam to share with other students.
  6. Telling your mentor that you need another attempt at the exam because your connection to the Internet was interrupted when that is not true.

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

At the end of the semester you are required to submit a Final Project that consists of two parts. In the first part you will review the financial information for a specific city, and in the second part you will answer a series of questions designed to assess your general knowledge of the course material.

GRADING AND EVALUATION

Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Discussion forums (6)—24 percent
  2. Written assignments (6)—36 percent
  3. Midterm exam (proctored, Modules 1–3)—20 percent
  4. Final project—20 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:

A

=

93–100

B–

=

80–82

A–

=

90–92

C+

=

78–79

B+

=

88–89

C

=

73–77

B

=

83–87

F

=

Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.

  1. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.

Plagiarism

Using someone else's work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism.  (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > "Citing Sources.")

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else's. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

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