Case Study

From Workforce Planning to Performance Tracking: Vestavia Hills, AL, Streamlines Budget Cycle with Year-Round Budgeting Capabilities

The Finance Department at Vestavia Hills, AL, is gearing up for a hiring battle. Anticipating the retirement of two out of nine staff members over the next three years, Deputy Finance Director/Chief Accountant Zachary Clifton is future-proofing operations now to allow for remote work—an expectation held by top talent in today’s world yet not often available for local government teams. 

First, Clifton helped move the City’s permitting and licensing process online. After that successful digital transformation, the City streamlined the year-round budgeting process. From workforce planning to performance measurement and community engagement, Clifton’s strategic initiatives have now positioned the City at the forefront of innovation. 

“Some governments sit back and wait for other people to do it, with processes from the 90s. Not here. Here, we want to be on the cutting edge. With OpenGov, we’re making everything easier, from spending to engaging the community. “

Zachary Clifton, Deputy Finance Director/Chief Accountant, Vestavia Hills, AL


Agency Type

Annual Budget
USD 60,219,795.00

Finance & Accounting


Budgeting & Planning

Customer Results

<7 Month Implementation and Dedicated Training to Quickly Get Staff on Board

Accurate Forecasting with Streamlined and Simplified Workforce Planning

Pull Performance Data in Seconds and Share with Stakeholders

3X Faster Online Budget Book Building With Customized Branding Templates

The City implemented OpenGov Budgeting & Planning in under seven months, and thanks to dedicated training, staff were hopping on the bandwagon immediately.

“Our implementation specialist is fantastic. She was so open and knowledgeable. During training, she spent hours helping all of my staff. Who are very much getting it. Even though the system is so intuitive, the quality of training was so impressive,” Clifton said.

Strategic Workforce Planning for Accurate Compensation Budgeting

Employee compensation and related costs represent 55% of the City’s total general fund expense. Amid high inflation and intense competition for skilled employees, it is vital that the City budget for competitive waging as accurately and efficiently as possible.

“Before, we used a spreadsheet to try and budget for everyone. It was a nightmare,” said Clifton.

With the ability to request new positions and conduct scenario analyses during budget season and mid-year, the City can predict the impact of turnover or wage inflation and adjust its budget accordingly.

“Having the workforce plan in OpenGov will help us tremendously to save time and be more accurate. We will 100% make more informed decisions.”

Enhanced Performance Tracking Elevates Community Engagement

Another aspect of the budget cycle that previously posed challenges was tracking performance, specifically for capital projects that span across departments.

“Our old system was not user-friendly. Department heads did not know how to pull reports, and I had to spend a lot of time helping them. It would take hours. Now it’s a comprehensive place they can go, and pretty much with one click, they’ll be able to get exactly what they want,” Clifton said.

Driven by a shared enthusiasm for performance measures and data-driven insights, department heads, including the City Manager, found new ways to enhance community engagement.

“Our City Manager loves to wake up with a cup of coffee and look over our performance measures,” said Clifton, “He loves it so much he’s even created his reports, and put them into a dashboard for citizens to look at.”

The City also has public stories displaying a Monthly View of Economic Growth and the FY 2023 Budget.

What’s Next? A GFOA Award-Winning Online Budget Book

Now that the modern budgeting system is up and running, Clifton has a new goal: to publish the City’s first online budget book and secure the GFOA Distinguished Budget Book Award.

“We were never able to do this in the past. We just pulled reports out of [our legacy system] and put them into binders. That’s thousands of trees that died just for binders that sit on shelves,” said Clifton, “With OpenGov, we can finally compete, and staff is very excited about it.”

Clifton is working on building a budget book that aligns with the City’s branding, a task that used to take hours but now is automated:

“Now we have a branding template built out, so every time we create a new page, the logo is already there. I don’t have to worry about putting it in the right place on every single page. Which is saving tons of time,” said Clifton.

Vestavia Hills, AL, emerged as a leader in innovation by streamlining every facet of its budgeting process. From workforce planning to performance tracking and community engagement, the City has enhanced accuracy and efficiency at every level. These advancements contribute to retaining and attracting talented staff, while empowering the City to make more informed decisions.

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