Category

Fiscal Health

Fiscal Health, Municipal, News, Press Releases

Introducing: Neighborhood Intel Block Analyzer

Munetrix’s Latest Suite of Apps Now Live for Premium Users

Munetrix recently announced the launch of its latest product suite: Neighborhood Intel: planning, analytics and reporting software for governments and public-sector partners.

The exciting new feature currently being rolled out to Premium subscribers is the Munetrix Neighborhood Intel Block Analyzer. This newly launched app aggregates, streamlines, desegregates and intuitively presents a holistic view of every community in the state—down to the census block level. 

Premium subscribers will see this new feature made live in the coming days, if they don’t already have access. If you would like a demo of the product’s capabilities, please reach out to your customer service representative.

Transparency users of Munetrix can access this powerful tool by upgrading to the Premium level. Contact sales@munetrix.com to learn more. If you are unsure whether you are a Premium or Transparent subscriber, contact us and we would be happy to look into it for you.

The Block Analyzer tool is also available to those who aren’t yet Munetrix users. Contact us to request a demo or to schedule a consultation.

City planners and economic developers have been using the Neighborhood Intel Block Analyzer for years to:

  • Aggregate, streamline, desegregate and intuitively present a holistic view of every census block level in a community.
  • Analyze adjacencies in block groups to understand trends and identify opportunities to positively impact the community.
  • Identify where underserved populations exist to better plan for future growth and prosperity.
  • View trends and dynamics in real time via time series analysis.
  • Make better-informed decisions, more quickly, to improve and sustain the health of the community.

Look for Neighborhood Intel Block Analyzer to go live in your system soon. If you aren’t finding it, contact us to determine when you will see the upgrade!

Two Important Tools to Look Out For:

  1. Watch the replay of our recent, WEBINAR: How to Battle Inflation with Better Budgeting. This webinar focused on how inflation may impact your school district or municipality budget, featuring David Zin Chief Economist for the Senate Fiscal Agency, and Buzz Brown CEO of Munetrix. They each shared their insights on how the current rising inflation may impact the fiscal health of your school districts and municipalities. Also learn how different budgeting tools and techniques can help reduce fiscal stress across your organization.
  2. Save the date! December 1st, CVTRS/CIP: This will be here before you know it. It’s not too early to update your Debt schedule and other documents needed to process your CVTRS/CIP this fall. Details and registration information coming soon! Learn more about the CVTRS and CIP obligations and process here.

Please let us know if you have any questions about these announcements and resources, or contact us if you would like more information and a personal demo of the Neighborhood Intel Block Analyzer too.

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, News

How to Remove Uncertainty, Headaches and Human Error from School Finance Administration

The Munetrix Financial Module helps districts increase transparency on fiscal, operations, safety, and other compliance reporting with their community. The Financial Module also provides districts with tools that make managing and reporting on capital improvement projects, benchmarking/peer analysis, debt obligations, check expenditures, budgeting, forecasting and scenario building – EASY!

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion, Webinars

Watch Webinar Replay: How to Battle Inflation with Better Budgeting

Tips and Methodologies for Battling the Uncertainty of Inflation in Budgeting

Watch the replay of an informative webinar on how inflation may impact your school district or municipality. Munetrix hosted David Zin, Chief Economist for the Senate Fiscal Agency, who joined Buzz Brown, to share insights on how the current rising inflation may impact the fiscal health of school districts or municipalities. Also learn how different budgeting tools and techniques can help reduce fiscal stress across your organization.

Education, Fiscal Health, Municipal, Opinion

Has Inflation Made You Rethink and Retool Your Budget?

Persistent and historically high inflation is dramatically impacting municipalities nationwide, in some cases completely altering prior projections and forecasts. Some municipal leaders are finding it necessary to completely rethink and redraft their budgets in order to reflect the new realities. And if they’re forced to do things the old way, they’re also doubling down on time, resources and labor already expended to repeat work they thought was once complete. Munetrix can introduce you, your team and your processes to advanced technology and new methodologies that can inject greater confidence and flexibility into budgets and forecasts, even accounting for dynamic, ever-changing scenarios.

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

How to Apply Comparative Analytics to Make Better Decisions and Forecasts

American computer scientist Kurt Bollacker once said that, “Data that is loved tends to survive.”

While many of us might find it difficult to “love” data, it is the lifeline of the organizations we run. Data tells us how we’ve performed in the past, what is likely to happen in the future, and how we can alter the path forward, for better or worse. So while we may prefer to ignore data than love it, we do so at our own peril.

In fact, too often, leaders of public institutions like schools, districts and municipalities either willingly or through benign neglect fail to apply a necessary love of data, and in doing so, fail to maximize the potential to make better decisions and more accurate forecasts.

Too many times, it is tempting to believe that you have all of the data you need, when in reality, there is data out there…keeping secrets from you…causing you to “not know what you don’t know”…and as a result, potentially leading you to draw inaccurate conclusions and make under-informed decisions. Not only can leaders fail to see the big picture, they may be looking at the wrong picture altogether.

After the past two years, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, it’s never been more critical to have the most complete data set possible so that we are making the most informed decisions and the best possible prognostications.

Comparative Analytics and Errors of Omission

The future of planning and budgeting is something called “comparative analytics.” Put simply, comparative analytics refers to the process of examining your own organization’s data and performance against those of your peers and competitors to draw more informed conclusions and to make better decisions. It’s a methodology for avoiding one of the greatest perils to critical decision-making: thinking we have all of the information we need and omitting a potentially decision-changing data set.

The good news: For schools and municipalities, the performance and budgeting data for all of your competitors and benchmarked peers is publicly available. All you have to do is go find it.

If you can view your own historical data and forward-looking projections against those of neighboring entities with whom you may be competing, won’t you be able to make more confident decisions and more strategic allocations of time, treasure and talent? Anything less, and you’re making critical decisions in a vacuum.

To provide just one illustrative example, let’s say you’re examining a school district’s expenditures on instructional investments for the past three years, and the data show that the district is accounting for 10% annual increases in that budget category. Sounds promising. The district appears to be investing in educational outcomes, the chief metric for educational excellence. 

Not so fast. Unfortunately, all that data set provides is an insular, backward-looking reporting of past events — and only the district’s own. Now imagine a scenario in which district leadership could instantly compare their own budget allocations against a neighboring district. Suppose the neighboring district is reporting student achievement data that far surpasses the first district. And then imagine that, through just a few clicks, we can see that the outperforming district is allocating a much larger budget to instructional line items, likely accounting for (at least in part) the better achievement outcomes. Despite the scheduled 10% increases, the spending gap remains large between districts, and so does the disparity in student achievement.

In other words, while District A at first blush appears to be investing in educational priorities, when we look at the big picture, we discover that District B is far outpacing District A in student achievement and taking an entirely different approach to prioritizing instructional spending.

How that might change District A’s assessment of its own budget allocations, and how might that data inform a decision about how to allocate public funding going forward?

Failing to “love” all of the data, in this example, is how an error of omission can quickly lead to errors of commission.

How to Avoid the Most Common “Errors of Omission”

If getting access to the complete set of all available data were difficult, we’d understand why someone might be tempted to take shortcuts or expedite decision making. But practically everything a public employee or leader needs to equip themselves for optimized decision making is publicly available, much of it required by mandate to be made readily accessible. So given that the “secrets” are out there, let’s examine what some of the most common self-inflicted errors of omission tend to be:

(If you would like any of the following reports pulled for your district or municipality and its relevant peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation).

Error #1: Not Going Far Enough Back

The more historical perspective you have, the better you are able to draw conclusions as to what’s driving trends, and what’s likely to change or continue. Too often, data analysts look only one or two years back, when there could be some revelatory trend data hiding in the entity’s more distant past that would prove informative and applicable to the present and the future.

10-year historical analysis

Error #2: Missing the Comparative Intelligence

Looking at your own data only is an error of omission that can, as illustrated above, lead to errors of commission. Here we look at comparative analytics that demonstrate how a sample school district allocates its own budget categorically relative to how all districts within that region do. Now we know if we are overspending, underspending, or misallocating resources, based on how our peers are doing their own budgeting. Look at the disparities and gaps, and consider what that data is trying to tell you.

Budget allocation peer-comparison report

Error #3: Failing to Connect the Dots

How is budgeting data aligned with performance metrics? Isn’t that the key to truly understanding whether our budgeting decisions and forecasts are aligned (or misaligned) with outcomes? With just a few clicks, you should be able to overlay key performance indicators with budgeting inputs to see if you’re getting sufficient return on investment, or whether you need to redirect funds and either double down or reallocate resources.

Overlay data sets to spot trends and performance drivers

Error #4: Not Seeing How Small Data Drives Big Trends

If you’re not examining historically significant data sets, and you’re not comparing both past performance and future forecasting against competitors or peers, you can’t possibly draw accurate correlations and conclusions relative to drivers of big-picture trends. One of the most critical trend data sets for schools and districts, for example, is enrollment. Enrollment data not only reflects success metrics of all kinds, it directly impacts per-pupil funding. The small discrete data points all come together to influence the larger trends we all hold dear and measure ultimate success or failure by. Failure to put the pieces together and see the entire puzzle is perilous, and an unforced error in the modern age.

Data visualizations matched with trend analysis provide a clearer picture yet.

Love the Data that Survives

Perhaps it’s too heavy a lift to expect everyone within leadership at public institutions to truly “love” data. But we do urge that those in positions of critical decision-making at least embrace all that data has to offer…and all that lies in wait to undermine decisions if leaders neglect to listen to the secrets data is keeping from them.

That “loved” data will not only survive, as Bollacker suggests…it will help government institutions thrive.

Unlock the best-kept secrets today! If you would like any of the referenced reports above (or others) pulled for your district or municipality and its peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation.

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30-Second Preview of Munetrix in Action:

Fiscal Health, Municipal

Data Management and Analytics Software for Municipalities

The Ongoing Evolution of Data Management and Analytics Software for Cities, Villages and Townships

Advanced data management and analytics software for municipalities has evolved beyond mere data visualization—which is, of course, critical—to encompass robust yet intuitive performance analytics solutions as well. For it’s one thing to be able to contextualize data through charts and graphs, but quite another to have software convert that data into actionable insights and intelligence that can inform better decision making.

One component of the complete Munetrix edition of our data management and analytics software for municipalities is a suite of tools that empower cities, villages and townships to perform peer review audits, track progress against their own metrics and manage projects to easily meet compliance requirements. The Budget Builder app, for example, is a powerful tool that allows users to create linear regression budgets in a matter of minutes.

We wrote recently about some features of the Munetrix Municipal Budget Allocation Reporting Dashboard. Whether you are allocating new monies from stimulus or other surplus, or making tough decisions about spending cuts, the best way to make those hard choices confidently is having the most complete set of data available.

Get a Free Demo of Munetrix’s Data Management and Analytics Software for Municipalities Today!

The Enterprise Module of Munetrix’s data management and analytics software for cities offers the most complete range of data visualization software for municipalities available. The full product includes budgeting, chart of accounts planning, forecasting and scenario building to debt management, peer benchmarking and capital improvement management, powerful interdependent apps that collaborate to contextualize and visualize all data sets available, from public API to your city’s internal data systems.

City managers, finance directors and other municipal administrators can get free access to one of the key tools in our data management and analytics software for municipalities with a free report we are issuing to any city, township or village who wants to receive this complimentary report. Learn how your municipality’s budget allocations compare to the average of all others in your region with this free, personalized report created specifically for your particular city, village or township—at no cost or obligation! Click here to receive your free, personalized report within 24 hours.

To learn more about how local governments are using data management and analytics software for municipalities to build better budgets, make better decisions, and inject greater transparency, easier compliance and, ultimately, more community trust, collaboration and teamwork with their constituents, request a no-obligation demo to unlock 30 days of free access to the Munetrix data management and analytics software for municipalities!

Fiscal Health

Municipal Budget Allocation Reporting Dashboard

The Munetrix Premium Edition for Municipalities features a comprehensive and intuitive municipal budget allocation reporting dashboard. Whether you are allocating new monies from stimulus or other surplus, or making tough decisions about spending cuts, the best way to make those hard choices confidently is having the most complete set of data available.

City managers, finance directors and other municipal administrators can get free access to one of the key tools in our municipal budget allocation reporting dashboard with a free report we are issuing to any city, township or village who wants to receive this complimentary report. Learn how your municipality’s budget allocations compare to the average of all others in your region with this free, personalized report created specifically for your particular city, village or township—at no cost or obligation!

Your free municipal budget allocation report will be customized to your specific municipality, comparing your budget allocations against the average of all others in your region, allowing you to: 

  • Compare your allocations against the regional average
  • Determine where you might be over-spending or under-spending, based on your peer averages
  • Make better-informed decisions about where to apply budgets or where to cut without losing pace with other cities, villages and townships in your region
  • Use data to create a culture of community through trust, teamwork and transparency
  • Measure what you treasure

Get a Free Demo of Munetrix’s Municipal Budget Allocation Reporting Dashboard Today!

The Munetrix Premium Edition for Municipalities offers the most complete range of data visualization available. The full product suite features apps for budgeting, chart of accounts planning, forecasting and scenario building to debt management, peer benchmarking and capital improvement management, powerful interdependent apps that collaborate to contextualize and visualize all data sets available, all in one intuitive and accessible dashboard!

Continue reading to learn how local governments are leveraging tools like the Munetrix municipal budget allocation reporting dashboard to achieve greater transparency, facilitate mandated compliance and, ultimately, build community trust, collaboration and teamwork with their constituents.

Fiscal Health, Municipal, Opinion

Look at the Bigger Picture to Facilitate Better Budgeting

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.

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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?

(To access your municipality’s comparison data like the one illustrated above, click here to receive a free report customized specifically to your city, village or township.)

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 psolar@munetrix.com.

Fiscal Health, K-12, Opinion, Uncategorized

Better Data Makes Better Budgets

As we enter budgeting season, finance directors, superintendents and other administrators are facing dilemmas and difficult decisions. Whether trying to prioritize the allocation of stimulus or other surplus funds, or processing the challenging demands of budget cuts, it’s decision time.

The problem we see is many administrators are forced to make difficult decisions with limited data and incomplete information. As we will illustrate, placing unnecessary blinders on your budgeting can lead to incorrect conclusions and potentially misplaced allocations of resources.

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