★ GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Winner ★
Update the strictly manual budget request collection process using Excel to a software solution that’s easy to learn and use for department heads. Plus, find a better way to communicate with residents who wanted a clearer picture of how shrinking tax revenues were being spent.
Like many local governments, the city of Page, Arizona, had departments submit budget requests using Excel. The city’s finance team then manually re-entered the data into their master spreadsheets. The process was time-consuming, and some of the data was inevitably keyed in incorrectly.
Lynn Cormier, Director of Community and Recreation Services, oversees about seven departments, so manually managing all of their budget requests and the back-and-forth with the finance team was a demanding job.
Additionally, Page is primarily a tourist town, so there are often questions about how tax dollars are used to help residents — especially in recent years as the city has seen a dip in revenue. To foster transparency, the city created and shared its GFOA award-winning budget book on its website. But the reality was that many residents either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, read the city’s 400+ page PDF budget book to find answers.
The city needed to modernize its budgeting process. They needed a software solution that:
The city adopted ClearGov last year with the finance team using it first before rolling it out to the departments.
Page was not as technologically advanced as other cities that Lynn had worked with, so she was happy to hear they were bringing in something new. She said the platform was easy for her and her departments to learn and it complemented the ERP software they already had in place.
“ClearGov has been one of the easier-to-use applications compared to what I have used in the past. It is user-friendly, and there are a ton of icons that walk you through it. I am not a read-the-instructions person, so the fact that I could figure out how to use ClearGov without reading a manual meant that I had more time to focus on work. It was an easy transition,” Lynn said.
Since implementing ClearGov, Lynn noticed that budget data is more accurate, with fewer typos due to manual data entry and re-entering data into multiple spreadsheets. Overall, the process is now more efficient, and her departments have saved considerable time during budgeting.
The city also used ClearGov’s Digital Budget Book to publish its first website-based budget book and they continued their streak of earning a GFOA award for their commitment to budgeting excellence. Recently, the city started building out and leveraging its Transparency page. The Community & Recreation Services department has been thrilled with how easy it is to update their dashboard with timely and relevant communication for residents.
Combined with their Digital Budget Book, it was exactly what they needed to better communicate budget information to residents. The easy-to-navigate Digital Budget Book is graphical, engaging, and not intimidating — which is especially important for the general public.
With ClearGov, residents can pull up precisely what the Community & Recreation Services department has spent on local trails, parks, etc., and the progress of projects important to them. When they can see the budget data for themselves and easily understand it, it legitimizes what the city says about the changes in revenue and expenses.