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2001 Top Picks
MuniNet Guide’s Annual Selection of Exceptional Local Government Websites

MuniNet Guide’s selection of noteworthy websites for the month ... If you haven’t seen them, you should!

EMMA - The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) launched the Electronic Municipal Market Access website (EMMA) in 2008. Now known to most simply as “EMMA,” the site has matured into one of the most valuable tools for encouraging education and promoting transparency in the industry. Whether you are an issuer or investor, if you’re looking for pricing, trade or disclosure information for municipal bonds, EMMA is the place to start. The website is free, accessible to the public and easy to use. Search for information by issuer, or for market statistics by time frame. The EMMA Education Center is like an online library, offering a variety of instructional videos for issuers and investors, webinars, podcasts and fact sheets.

Report Card on America’s Infrastructure - With a cumulative grade point average of D+, America’s infrastructure is in trouble, although perhaps marginally less so than in previous years. The American Society of Civil Engineers released its most recent - and most impressive - Report Card, breaking down performance by infrastructure category as it had in prior years (1998, 2001, 2005 and 2009), but this time, adding videos and interactive features. Infographics and tables show which types of infrastructure systems are in greatest need of attention (and funding), and how each states are faring by infrastructure type. Impressive, informative and eye-opening.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Investor Program - There are state and local government investor relations pages, and then there is the Massachusetts Investor Program website, which falls into a class of its own. The Massachusetts site includes standard fare, like annual financial reports and budget documents, but doesn’t stop there. Information extends to pensions and OPEB data, other helpful investor resources such as secondary market trading activity (via a link to the MSRB EMMA website), and a ground-breaking “real-time disclosure” section, which users can import into their own spreadsheets for analysis.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland - While each of the 12 Federal Reserve district websites has something unique and valuable to offer, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland site stands out for its breadth and depth of information, as well as its welcome pizazz (who would’ve expected it?). When a website can make often dry topics such as inflation and economic updates inviting, hats off. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has many noteworthy features, in fact, too many to name here, but two favorites include Inflation Central, chock of data and commentary, and Metro Mix, which provides quarterly economic updates for selected cities in the District; in addition to PDF version of the reports,  short videos highlight the period’s activity in each city.

Bankrate’s Cost of Living Calculator - Have you even wondered what it would cost to pack your bags and move from Minneapolis to Austin?  According to Bankrate’s Cost of Living Calculator, if you earned $100,000 in Minneapolis, you could take a 12 percent decrease in pay and still maintain your current standard of living. The site provides a detailed comparison between costs in the two metro areas for big-ticket items such as homes, services (e.g., trips to the dentist) and miscellany such as dry cleaning. Bankrate’s website also features a variety of other calculators, from CD rates to college savings.  (Interested in other online tools to help with municipal research? See Five Handy Online Calculators for Municipal Research)

----SUPP_CONTENT----Do you have a site that you’d like to be considered as a Top Pick? Let us know! Contact Mardee Handler, managing editor.

July 9, 2001 · Print · Email

Big Cities (population greater than 250,000)

Austin, Texas

New York, New York

San Diego, California

Seattle, Washington

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Honorable Mentions:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Chicago, Illinois

Houston, Texas

Indianapolis, Indiana

Minneapolis, Minnesota

San Jose, California

Smaller Cities & Villages (population under 250,000)

Bellevue, Washington

Hampton, Virginia

Peterborough, New Hampshire

Honorable Mentions

Allen, Texas

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Santa Barbara, California

Vancouver, Washington

Other Categories

Citizen Participation

Old West Durham Neighborhood Association

Speakout.com

Honorable mention:

League of Women Voters

Demographics

State of the Cities Data System

Economic Development

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development

Metro New Mexico Development Alliance

Economics Information

Bloomberg’s Economies

The Dismal Scientist

U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis

U.S. Census Bureau Economic Briefing Room

Housing Industry Data

Knowledgeplex

Issues

National Issues.com

Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington

Municipal Finance/Bonds (Municipal Agencies & Authorities)

Wisconsin Capital Finance Office

Transportation Corridor Agencies

Salt River Project

Jefferson County, Alabama

New York City

Transitional Finance Authority

New York City Water Authority

Honorable Mentions:

Arlington, Texas

Houston, Texas

Orlando, Florida

News

BizJournals.com

Political1.com

Reuters

Stateline

Power Industry

Energy Information Administration

Professional organizations

American Society for Public Administration

National Conference of State Legislatures

National League of Cities

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