Better Data Makes for Better Budgeting for Municipalities
Whenever city managers and finance directors go into a budgeting exercise, they face dilemmas and difficult decisions. Whether trying to prioritize the allocation of stimulus or other surplus funds, or processing the challenging demands of budget cuts, tough calls need to be made.
The problem we see is many are forced to make difficult decisions with limited data and incomplete information. Placing unnecessary blinders on your budgeting can lead to incorrect conclusions and potentially misplaced allocations of resources.
It is, however, possible to remove the blinders that have shackled the hands of budgeters and forecasters for years, allowing them to make the invisible visible.
To help facilitate and illustrate this methodology for finance directors, we are, for a limited, time offering a free report to any municipality that wants to see how their budget allocations compare to those of all others in their regions.
Data as Competitive Advantage
Let’s face it: Even neighboring cities and townships are in competition. Municipalities are competing not only for population and tax bases, but for visitors, shoppers and recreationalists as well.
Most often, the competition is right next door. Sometimes it’s within a reasonable commute. But make no mistake, population flight and lower pedestrian traffic are very real and likely to remain (at least to a degree) for the foreseeable future.
With so much at stake, it’s imperative that municipalities make the most of their strategic decisions—budgetary or otherwise. It’s no longer enough to look internally and self-assess. To do so ignores the data set of competitive forces…the ones pulling at our residents and guests.
But what if you could not only zoom out from your own spreadsheets and historical data and look at the bigger picture? By this, we mean the much bigger picture of the entire region, to access more information, better intelligence, and greater insights on the drivers of success, resident migration and the flow of expenditures and investment. How might that change minds and budgets?
What we’d see is not only our data, but our own data relative to the entire region’s—not just a neighbor or two. How do our city’s budget allocations differ or align with where our competitors are spending their dollars? It would make visible the answers to these questions, which would otherwise remain invisible:
- If we have to cut spending, are we cutting in the right areas?
- If we are able to invest stimulus dollars, where are the areas that we need to play catch-up with our peers?
- Are we over-spending or under-spending, compared to our peers throughout the region, in areas like salaries, facilities and infrastructure, administrator compensation, etc.?
- How do we know when enough is enough, or too much is too much?
- Are we winning or losing the various battles for residents, tax payers, merchants, shoppers and federal investments?
It’s one thing to have “a sense” that particular line items need bolstering or trimming, and quite another to have access to regional averages that keep no secrets as to how your city or township is stacking up against the competition.
No longer is it prudent to play a hunch. It’s time to play to win.
Get Your Municipality’s Free Report to See How Your Budgeting Stacks Up Against the Competition
We feel so strongly about the power of performance analytics and data visualizations presenting the complete picture that we are offering a free report to any municipality that would like to evaluate its own budget allocations against the average of its regional peers.
Your personalized report, customized to your specific city, township or village, will include your version of the above data, along with a breakdown of all spending categories, delivered personally to your inbox in an easy-to-read PDF:
Simply click here to access your city’s Budget Allocation report, at no cost or obligation. You will receive the report within 24 hours, along with access to a live human who will be available to answer questions or help you contextualize your data.
Before long, the invisible will be visible to you. And you will be entering your next budget planning session armed with greater insights, broader intelligence, and informed confidence. Say hello to easy!
Peter Solar is Director of Client Partnerships with Munetrix, a performance analytics and data visualization solution provider serving school districts and municipalities across the country. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.