MuniWise

They’ve helped a school district lease new buses, a village acquire a backhoe, and various municipalities repair roads, finish public construction projects, or manage the infrastructure vital to the citizens they serve. Providing loans and other banking products to communities is at the very heart of what a community bank is designed to do — and Prospect Bank has been doing it for over three decades.

Known as MuniWise, it’s a suite of customized banking services designed for municipalities or their affiliated agencies — entities like a town government, a school board, a fire department, or a public works division. Prospect Bank’s experience in the field is evident in its dedicated MuniWise website, representatives who work specifically with certain municipalities, the likelihood of fewer fees, and the understanding that only a local bank can provide.

“With the big banks, typically you’re just a small fish in a big pond. As a smaller community bank, we take pride in understanding what those municipalities feel and what they deal with day in and day out,” says Brittany Cluver, chief deposit officer at Prospect Bank. “So, we can work together with the same goal in mind of making sure that they're making themselves efficient, making the best use of the funds that they have, building big picture goals of where they want to reach, and helping them get to those spots.”

The financial options provided by the MuniWise program are particularly important today, as many municipal governments struggle with a loss of tax dollars stemming from pandemic-related shutdowns. MuniWise can help bridge the funding gap between municipal income and tax revenue, along with offering lease-purchase financing, debt financing, and a host of other services.

“We want to look out for our local communities across the state of Illinois and even into Indiana,” says Cluver. “We’ve put a lot into this program, we’ve been doing this for a long time, and we want to help whomever we can.”

Sweep accounts, debt financing, and more

Since its founding in 1873 as Edgar County Bank and Trust, Prospect Bank has worked to help the communities of Central Illinois bank smarter and thrive. Headquartered at 177 West Wood St. in Paris, Prospect Bank has expanded to nine locations throughout the region. Its municipal banking services have helped villages, townships, school districts, public safety departments, highway departments, and other entities maximize their funds and better manage their money.

And the Prospect Bank difference is evident in the suite of services that MuniWise provides. Lease-purchase financing comes with the community bank touch, which doesn’t saddle the borrower with unnecessary fees. Anticipation warrants are bonds that fill a gap in tax revenue and help cities and towns line up the necessary funding before building a new school, hospital, or road system. Sweep accounts use money from other funds to fill low balances for more pressing needs.

Cash concentration accounts pool funds into a single account for better cash availability. Debt financing allows municipalities to refinance property or assets at a lower rate. And automated clearing house origination and reporting simplify payroll and third-party payment procedures. Interest rates for MuniWise products can change weekly but remain at or near record lows.

“We find ways that they can reduce costs, earn more interest or commingle funds in different ways,” Cluver says. “Obviously the rate environment is significantly low right now, so if they have bonds, we can look at doing some refinancing. Maybe they have equipment they need to buy or replace; we can look at different lease options for that. And then we can look at their operating accounts to make sure they're making the most for their buck, and earning interest that can be put back into their community for other resources.”

Honesty and responsibility in handling public money

Unlike issuing a personal loan or a mortgage for a home, helping municipalities navigate financial issues means dealing with public dollars—tax money collected from citizens. Always keeping that fact top of mind is another strength of a community bank, which often operates in or near the municipality it’s serving. They’re not an address in a faraway locale, but neighbors whose tax dollars may be going toward the same projects.

That means representatives of Prospect Bank often appear at the public board meetings where a municipality’s financial decisions are made, presenting information and answering questions. It’s not just a matter of helping municipalities better manage their money to build roads and schools — it’s also about being honest and transparent in the process. That’s where a legacy of trust dating back over a century comes in handy.

“It is public money, so people have to be cognizant of how they're handling it and making sure they're doing it in the best interest of not only their specific municipality but the community as a whole,” Cluver says. “We're always available to answer questions because it isn't just one person making a decision. Depending upon the type of board, it can be five to nine different people, and you have to make sure everybody understands and can make a good decision.”

Interested in learning more about the MuniWise program from Prospect Bank? Visit BankProspect.com/MuniWise to check rates, enroll to receive MuniWise rate emails or apply for an account, or call (877) 465-4154 to speak with a MuniWise representative.

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