Haverhill city councilors say the time is right to consider expanded financial transparency tools for the public to better assess how local government operates.
The city has used a budget management tool called ClearGov since 2016. The online program shows the city’s income and expenses and makes comparisons with similar communities. Council Vice President Colin F. LePage, who originally advocated for the use of ClearGov, told his colleagues last Tuesday the program has since expanded exponentially. ClearGov’s Lewie Alfano discussed the company’s original vision and where it is headed now.
“To bring greater levels of transparency to the budget process, to help the average resident understand what is being spent and why it’s being spent on certain things. That’s why ClearGov exists. We want to save folks time, effort and really help to modernize the budget process as a whole,” he said.
Alfano said his company now offers five products—three geared specifically to a city’s budgeting process, including capital expenses, personnel expenses and operational budgeting. The program also includes a digital budgeting book, which simplifies and presents information to the public, and the program Haverhill now uses called the transparency solution, designed to help users get the most from the information presented.
LePage said now might be a good time to look at what the program offers since Haverhill Chief Financial Officer Charles Benevento is retiring. He also reported a similar program used by the city will likely increase in price by $20,000 in the near future to about double the cost of ClearGov’s program.
On LePage’s motion, councilors voted to ask Mayor James J. Fiorentini to look at ClearGov’s new offerings and also ask Benevento for his opinion.