Is your city, county, utility, or park district entering annual budget-planning season? If so, you're not alone. The budget preparation process can be highly complex and labor-intensive, often requiring input and data from a variety of sources.
In the midst of COVID-19, using real-time data to inform your decisions and justify your budget requests is now more important than ever. With most municipalities facing tax revenue drops, deep budget cuts, and workforce reductions, your team must be prepared to demonstrate the value of your recommendations to community leaders and taxpayers. You must also be ready to clearly communicate the impacts of funding approval or disapproval.
Cartegraph OMS is a great tool to easily consolidate your data points and determine the areas of funding requests. Using a parks and recreation department as an example, I will show you how you can make three critical areas of the budget process more seamless and objective. While the example is focused on parks, the same logic can be applied to any city or county department.
1. Determine replacement schedules
How many assets do you need to replace in the park system? What's the condition of these assets? Cartegraph allows you to build a replacement schedule for any asset or piece of equipment. In turn, that data can help you justify the replacement of anything from playgrounds, benches, and BBQ grills to mowers, trucks, and trailers.
This requires two simple steps:
- Input background info such as the asset's purchase date, replacement cost, and predicted life span.
- Perform a simple 3-5 minute inspection on each asset.
Cartegraph can generate a real-time replacement schedule and save you from hours of trying to sort through shared Excel sheets, paper files, or other databases. You can quickly generate the list and send a professional report to the director or city manager in a matter of minutes.
2. Justify maintenance for new facilities
If your city is proposing a new park or facility, what will be the future maintenance impact of the investment? In the past, this has been hard to determine. Sure, electric and water costs are easy to predict, but what about all the other maintenance related activities?
This age-old question can be answered with Cartegraph. Using the software's container and component relationships, you can aggregate the total costs and labor hours associated with a specific grouping of spaces, facilities, and infrastructure assets. Compare the mowing, litter, repairs, utilities, and contracts of a park of similar size and amenities gives you an advantage when proposing additional maintenance resources to the city council or commission.
For example, if an existing park with a pavilion, playground, pond, and trail costs $30,000 a year and 580 labor hours to maintain, then a new park with the same amenities will have very similar maintenance impacts. And, you'll have the data to prove it.
3. visualize and share data with dashboards
Once your budget proposals and reports are prepared, it's time to share that data. Tap into Cartegraph's powerful, two-way integration with Esri's ArcGIS platform to build dashboards and interactive story maps for your decision makers and public. Not a geospatial whiz? No worries: you don’t need to be a GIS expert to work within these data tools. Once the information is entered in Cartegraph and integrated to ArcGIS, the dashboard will update in real time.
In fact, all your proposed capital maintenance projects, equipment replacement schedules, and infrastructure repair items can be integrated into an ArcGIS dashboard. All you need to do is share the dashboard’s URL and anyone can view the data at any time from a PC.
In the end, infrastructure and operations data is powerful, and having the right tools to do the job effectively can make a big difference in budgeting success. By using Cartegraph, you can streamline the process and increase your odds of acquiring the budget funding for your city, county, utility, or park district.