Northglenn, Colorado Finance Office Trail Blazes Operational Reporting

POPULATION: 36,000 | AGENCY TYPE: City | ANNUAL BUDGET: $50 Million

Pioneers in a Pioneer State


The tight-knit community of Northglenn, Colorado is situated on the front range of the Rocky Mountains just fifteen minutes north of booming Denver. With beautiful places to hike and bike in the summer, access to world-class skiing in the winter, and a thriving business community, Northglenn’s residents report deeply enjoying their quality of life.

However, the city’s residents enjoy more than just a stunning view of the Rockies and 300 days of sunshine a year — they are also the beneficiaries of a top-notch municipal finance office, the vanguard of the city’s financial health. Northglenn Director of Finance Jason Loveland has spent years promoting economic growth and development in the city. Thanks to Loveland and his team, Northglenn was the first city in Colorado to use the OpenGov Smart Government Platform. Loveland continues to innovate in Colorado by working with his staff and OpenGov to create custom internal reports that increase operational effectiveness and facilitate data-driven decisions.


Simplifying Internal Operations for Better Budgeting


Northglenn hosts its accounting data in Springbrook, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system focused on local governments. Loveland explained that “although all the data lives in the general ledger software, it’s hard to get much insight from it. You are not going to do a huge data dump of your general ledger into an Excel sheet and create hundreds of pivot tables and layer charts and graphs on top of it.” He was searching for a solution to get more out of his accounting data when he heard about OpenGov. “Two days later, I called and signed up,” he recalled.

OpenGov allows Loveland to view Northglenn’s multi-fund departmental budgets and easily compare data from any account. Such non-hierarchical access to the city’s Chart of Accounts allows him to gain direct visibility into any part of his organization. “To have everything mapped how you want it is tremendously helpful, and the visualizations on top of that provide an extra level of functionality,” Loveland explained. This has not helped only him, but also the organization as a whole. He noted, “I look at numbers all day and expect to as part of my job. But when we are taking information to council, the City Manager, and department heads, it’s helpful to share financial information visually. It makes my job easier and it helps them do their jobs better.”

Understand Northglenn’s investment decisions in seconds and compare them to past decisions using OpenGov.

“By giving directors and others within their departments a better understanding of the data that’s in the general ledger software, we have made it easier for them to draw up their budgets,” Loveland said. “It has saved us a tremendous amount of time over the old way of doing it without this tool.” He notes that OpenGov can help the team better manage Northglenn’s finances. “With OpenGov, it is easier to identify where we could be better allocating our resources.”

“With OpenGov, it’s easier to identify where we could be better allocating our resources.”
Jason Loveland, Director of Finance, Northglenn, CO

Reporting Non-Financial Data


To help gain better insight into the city’s water usage, Loveland created a report in OpenGov that displayed data on water consumption and production dating back to 1989. “We are producing and consuming the same amount of water as 25 years ago, but we keep acquiring water. I just wanted to know why,” Loveland said. He was the first OpenGov user to create this report, which was also one of the platform’s first Internet of Things” use cases. Sensors in the water treatment plant gather production data and report how much water is purified and sent out to the public for use. Sensors in the pipes collect consumption data by reading how much water each building uses, informing the city about whom to bill.

Break down expenditures to better understand how individual decisions form a greater picture.


“Transforming data into a visual and dynamic format adds great value.”
Jason Loveland, Director of Finance, Northglenn, CO

With the water consumption and production report, the city staff can view water production by season over the last twenty-six years, enabling personnel to make more informed decisions about acquiring water rights. The city can also view consumption by building type, such as single-family unit, multi-family apartment, and commercial office, which facilitates better forecasting of the city’s water revenue. Loveland said the answer to his question about water rights is a bit technical and complicated, but that “it’s still good to ask those questions and make sure that the council and staff understand how that works.”


A Tool For Economic Development


Loveland’s team also plans to use OpenGov as a tool to enhance economic development. After creating his report on water consumption and production, Loveland is working with his Economic Development and Planning Departments to import historical property valuation data. This will help guide decisions on urban renewal projects. He also wants to create a sales-tax-by-industry report to determine which industries are generating the most revenue for the city and what kinds of businesses Northglenn should seek to attract. Loveland said, “transforming the data into a visual and dynamic format adds great value.”

Loveland explained that the true test of OpenGov will come when there’s another economic downturn and everyone in the organization and community is fighting even harder for their share of limited resources. “The reason I want to do a lot with OpenGov now, and not wait until there’s a crisis is that the time at which we’re most going to need OpenGov is also the time at which we’ll be least able to think about it. We’ll need to just have all of that information in front of us so we can act intelligently rather than with panic.”

See expenditures and drill down immediately for more context that facilitates informed decisions.

Results

  • Data-Driven Budgeting.

    Northglenn, CO used the OpenGov Smart Government Platform to improve its budgeting process by making financial data more accessible and easier to share.

  • Improved Reporting and Critical Insights.

    Creating unique targeted reports allowed Northglenn to investigate critical resource allocation and plan accordingly.

  • Revenue Forecasting.

    Using OpenGov, Northglenn bolstered its financial analyses and planning with economic data.

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