Meet a hero of 21st Century LocalGov: Jason Loveland
Since 2012, Jason Loveland has served the City of Northglenn, CO as its Finance Director. Mr. Loveland has earned a reputation as an innovator in government finance through his work in Northglenn.
We asked Mr. Loveland to discuss his career in government finance, his recent partnership with OpenGov, and his perspectives on the future of public finance. Here’s what he had to say.
OG: How long have you been in government service, and in particular, how long have you served as a Finance Director?
JL: I’ve worked in government service for the past ten years. For my first four years, I worked for a local school district as the Manager of Accounting & Reporting. I then moved to Northglenn, where I’ve worked for the past six years. Since 2012, I’ve served as Northglenn’s Finance Director.
OG: What attracted you to government service?
JL: I’m a former auditor and spent four years of my career collaborating with local governments. After years of traveling from client to client, I wanted to see if I could help governments for an extended period of time, not just a little over a week. I had great experiences working with department heads and other staff during my audits, and I decided I wanted to work more closely with these individuals to deliver value to constituents. Also, the variety of a government is unique; each department is almost like its own business.
OG: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the municipal finance profession? How do you anticipate municipal finance changing in the next ten years?
JL: There are a series of challenges the municipal finance profession will have to grapple with. First, we’re going to have to address infrastructure maintenance and replacement costs. Every jurisdiction is different, but we all need infrastructure that can fulfill the needs of a 21st century economy. In Northglenn we are currently making significant improvements to our wastewater facility and Justice Center. We’re also making significant road improvements to accommodate an influx of traffic expected from a regional commuter rail line coming to the City. These projects, coupled with on-going maintenance of the entire network of infrastructure, require a combination of significant project-specific financial planning and a long-term outlook on their future impacts. Municipal finance leaders will also need to figure out how to best use technology for decision-making.
I think in the next decade there will be continued desire for transparency in government. Society seems to be moving quickly in its desire for rapid access to information. This is a fun challenge, and municipal governments will have new opportunities to engage with their citizens.
OG: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
JL: As Finance Director, I get to work on a variety of projects that cover many disciplines. For example, I may meet with Public Works on a road or utility project then, an hour later, I may work with Economic Development on a mall project. After lunch, I’d get the chance to work with Parks and Recreation on a new program or park project.
OG: What do you wish the public knew about being a Finance Director?
JL: I want people to know I’m here to find ways to invest in the community. To me, this is why local government is here, and I like finding ways to fund improvements to a roadway or park, or find ways to partner with the private sector and redevelop a run-down shopping center.
OG: What has being a Finance Director taught you about management in general?
JL: Balancing the needs of the organization and community is a challenge. Resources are pulled in many directions (political, internal, community) so it’s necessary to understand the entire organization while making plans with limited resources. It’s important that I do a lot of listening and that I ask a lot of questions. This approach helps me gain insight and perspective into the City as a whole.
OG: When and how did you first hear about OpenGov?
JL: I first heard about OpenGov in March 2015 through a webinar of one of OpenGov’s partners, Springbook.
OG: How have you used OpenGov internally?
JL: We’ve used OpenGov internally for management reports for departments on financial matters specific to their needs. For example, the Recreation Department uses OpenGov to track various programs’ performance using Current Year reporting visualizations. We also use OpenGov to analyze water consumption and sales tax information.
OG: In a case study, you mentioned you use OpenGov for economic development. May you please talk a bit more about that?
JL: We’ve taken our sales tax data and used the dynamic reporting in OpenGov to track sales tax revenue by industry type and by geographic locations of sales within the City. The economic development staff and others city employees can use this information to guide decisions on redevelopment project prioritization. It’s also used to assist in identifying our tax base by industry and seeing if there are gaps in what we consider to be a sustainable tax base.
OG: How do you use OpenGov in your budget process?
JL: OpenGov allows departments to see where they spend their money. The visualization speeds up the internal process when departments determine how to allocate their budget dollars on an annual basis. Sometimes, you can get into a rut of budgeting X dollars per year on an item and not concerning yourself with actual spending. For example, the Police Department may budget for radio scanners, and it is important to track how the dollars allocated to scanners are actually spent.
OG: How do you plan to use OpenGov Comparisons in your operations?
JL: I’ll use the tool to benchmark how we measure up to other organizations. There’s a level of comfort for decision-makers and the public knowing how you compare to others.
OG: What advice do you have for other governments looking to implement 21st century technology in their organizations?
JL: Advances in technology provide benefits across the organization and community, so it’s important to make the time to implement these tools. Find a “champion” for the project and get others excited about the benefits they will reap from the implementation.
Visit Northglenn’s budget platform at northglennco.opengov.com.
Category: Customer Story