Update: Mayor Says He Hasn’t Yet Decided to Buy Financial Web Tool

The sample Haverhill page on cleargov.com.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

In a clarification issued Friday afternoon, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he has not yet decided to spend $7,250 annually for a website budget planning tool that also provides the public with an analysis of local spending compared to other Bay State communities.

It is not clear where the misunderstanding occurred, but Fiorentini said he authorized placing only a sample page on the city’s website. He added he has not decided whether to pay ClearGov for their product—the first city to do so. Fiorentini said he is proud of his administration’s transparency on financial matters.

“We received awards three years in a row from Common Cause for transparency,” he said, adding, “We’re always looking to improve on information we give to the public. We’ve posted DOR (Department of Revenue) Data Bank reports. We’ve also posted 10 years of budget data on the website. I’m definitely interested in new systems.”

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

Consideration of the matter comes after a presentation earlier this week by ClearGov CEO Chris Bullock to the Haverhill City Council. At the meeting, Bullock demonstrated the company’s upgraded software offerings at the request of Councilors Colin F. LePage, Andy Vargas and Vice President Melinda E. Barrett. The city has since placed on the city’s website a link to a sample version of ClearGov through the city auditor’s page. In its current state, only fiscal year 2014 city statistics are provided for comparisons to state and federal records.

“Transparency, informing taxpayers on budget share/costs, objective comparisons to other communities,” LePage told WHAV, explaining the upgraded software and access “fulfills the Community Compact agreement,” signed recently by Fiorentini and Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito.

Vargas told WHAV Friday he hopes to see ClearGov’s price go down.

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas.

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas.

“I’ve been talking to ClearGov since I met them at the Massachusetts Municipal Association conference. I introduced them to other councilors and I look forward to negotiating with them to make a deal for Haverhill residents,” he said.

LePage said he likes the webs tool because financial information is presented in way that is “easy to visualize.”

“They all show a more comprehensive public side and (access) ‘behind the website’ has all the information to assist city leaders ‘dissect’ where the money goes as well as the ratios,” LePage added. “All of the information is easily accessible, no ‘hidden money.’”

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Barrett called the ClearGov software, “intuitive, very easy to use.”

“For the money, a great product for an open government; for clear, concise answers to questions,” Barrett said.

A follow up meeting with Fiorentini and city officials was requested by Bullock for either next Wednesday or Thursday, according to an e-mail provided to WHAV.


2 thoughts on “Update: Mayor Says He Hasn’t Yet Decided to Buy Financial Web Tool

  1. Some guy wants 7 grand for what is essentially a spread sheet with useless information. Haverhill has more land area, a wider range of land uses, a more varied range of real estate that make comparisons to a state median worse than useless. The information is misleading and can be twisted around for any purpose the user wants. Want to say we’re efficient, or that the police chief is efficient say we spend less on cops, per capita, than Islington or Gosnold or Wellesley. Want to say we have a crime problem, we need more cops, say we spend less on cops, per capita, than Islington or Gosnold or Wellesley.

    Face is, a comparision to state medians, or to any other town, is useless when you’re in a city with a diverse mix of urban-/rural single/multifamily/apartment/condo, industrial/commercial/residential property types that is matched in very, very few Massachusetts communities.

    Want to spend 7,200 on the website? How about showing the results of planning, zoning and conservation issues. How about putting complete packets for every public meeting up for public inspection.,

    In the annals of stupid ideas, seven grand for some guy and his spreadsheet has to rank among the most idiotic.

  2. ” No hidden money” – Yeah right. Now we know why the Mayor hasn’t approved it yet. There is plenty of hidden money. That’s what city leaders were confident of when Quorum was raping the city hospital of tens of thousands of dollars and, even when they found out, did nothing to get nay of it back.

    “No hidden money” – funny, then how was Councilor LePage able to ‘Find” the $120k + money for the health ed teacher position ? If Haverhill keeps getting awards for ‘transparency” then can anyone imagine how bad the other cities are doing ? No wonder the country, the state, and the cities are broke !