5 Reasons Your Local Government Should Move To A Digital Budget Book
The world of local government budget books has traditionally been print-first, with a PDF uploaded to the community’s website to make it technically ‘digital.’ But PDFs are cumbersome to navigate. A better alternative is to go truly digital with a website-based budget book.
If you’ve been on the fence about going digital with your budget book, here are the top five reasons to take a look at ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution to help your local government budget better in 2023.
#1 Digital Budget Books Are Always Up-To-Date
Making changes is one of the most tedious aspects of manually building a budget book in Word or Adobe. If your budget data changes while creating your budget book, you then have to make changes in multiple places. Once the PDF is created, especially if it is printed, it becomes a static document that will be outdated the minute changes occur.
A website-based budget book with ClearGov is populated directly by your budget data. If that data changes, every instance of the figure in your budget book is automatically updated, ensuring that your document is always up-to-date.
#2 Digital Budget Books Are User-Friendly And Interactive
PDFs and printed budget books are difficult to navigate. Scrolling or flipping through several hundred pages is frustrating, especially if a resident is looking for a specific capital project or department page.
A digital budget book is easy to navigate. Residents can quickly click to any page in the primary navigation categories, such as fund summaries, departments, capital improvement, or debt. From there, they see expenditures and funds at a glance in chart format and can drill down to detailed line items in spreadsheets below the images.
The charts and tables in a Digital Budget Book are automatically generated based on your budget data, and users simply toggle between chart types to see the data in a visual format that makes the most sense to them.
#3 – Digital Budget Books Are Template-Based To Save Time
Manually creating a budget book from the ground up is time-consuming. By the time you configure spreadsheets to fit the page and create custom graphics, it’s no surprise that some local governments skip the ‘nice to have’ information like key performance indicators, strategic goals, and narrative to help residents understand how expenditures are prioritized.
With ClearGov Digital Budget Book, the fund summary, department, capital project, and debt pages are template-based and automatically pre-populated from your budget data to save time and create a consistent look across the entire site. Pages can then be customized with images, narrative for context, and any other information you want to share. The pre-built categories also make organizing child pages under parent pages easy for a more intuitive navigation experience.
When you start with templated, pre-populated pages and automatically generated graphics, you can focus on telling the story around the data.
#4 Digital Budget Books Are ADA Optimized
There’s an extensive checklist of guidelines in order to make printed and digital documents accessible for people with disabilities. Many PDFs and printed budget books don’t meet all ADA guidelines. While this is risky as it could lead to legal action, the bigger issue is that some people in the community may be excluded from the budget data because of their disabilities.
ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book was developed to automatically meet ADA guidelines so that your budget book is accessible to all. Even those without disabilities will appreciate the increased visibility and readability from the colors, font, spacing, and other design elements that went into creating the ADA-optimized templated pages.
#5 Digital Budget Books Are Eco-Friendly & Affordable
Paper, ink, and copy machines are expensive!
Going digital shows your community that you are environmentally-conscious and a good steward of their tax dollars.
However, if you do need to print a copy of your budget book, ClearGov’s print-on-demand option lets you export a perfectly formatted, print-ready PDF in seconds. This also gives constituents the ability to only print specific pages they’re interested in to further reduce wasted paper and ink.
Ready To Go Digital?
ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book solution is the industry’s first website-based solution that automates most of the budget book creation process using templates and data-driven charts and tables. We make it so simple to create your budget book that, dare we say, you might even enjoy it!
By eliminating manual processes and saving time and money, many ClearGov customers have used the opportunity to enhance their budget book and turn it into a more meaningful communication tool. In addition to sharing the data, you can add strategic goals and performance measures, and share how capital projects are prioritized. With a robust, easy-to-understand website-based budget book that residents actually engage with, you can demonstrate your commitment to transparency, foster open lines of communication, and build trust with your community.
The city of Cocoa, Florida does an outstanding job using Digital Budget Book to do just that! Check out one of their department pages as an example.
To see how ClearGov can help you budget better, watch a quick demo of Digital Budget Book or contact us to learn more.