Getting down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to every dollar and cent government spends. Sounds like an impossible task? One Connecticut town seems to have it down.
In NBC Connecticut Investigates’ continuing series, “At A Price! The High Cost of Local Town Living” we take a closer look.
Manchester town leaders admit their painstaking approach to tracking the number of swim lessons given every year, to employee cell phone use, has not lowered taxes in town.
However, they say it has kept costs down, to the point where taxes are not going out of the ballpark.
Organized baseball was one of the first professions outside of finance to use detailed statistical measures to help teams that rarely had a winning record suddenly become competitive.
Enter Manchester, Connecticut.
Ten years ago it began the slow rollout of having almost every department in local government track certain performance measures, and now, the town is reaping the benefits of years of data to analyze how well it does everything from road resurfacing to DUI arrests.
Manchester Budget and Research Officer Brian Wolverton explained, “There’s just an immense amount of information that’s available.”
Manchester shares the highlights with its taxpayers in an annual operations and performance report, with charts and graphs that show people how many potholes get fixed every year, how long it takes to get a building plan review, the town employee turnover rate, and more. You can review the most recent report here.
Manchester taxpayers appreciate the transparency and detailed information.
Carl Kennedy told NBC Connecticut Investigates “It’s nice to know where your money goes for a change. When you got to pay those taxes they want them right away, now you get an explanation on where it’s going.’”
These stats do more than just show people where their tax dollars are going. They also help Manchester where it needs to add or cut resources, to become more efficient.
“By having that exact level, that high detail of information, we’re able to determine exactly what we need,” Wolverton said.
Case in point, by drilling down on data, the town figured out how to cut the 500 hours per year its health inspectors spent on the road driving to appointments, in half.
“…looking at how the inspections were being scheduled, so previously they were just being scheduled as they came in, so you’d have inspectors going basically across town multiple times in a day, now there’s an effort to try to cluster the inspections so the inspector isn’t really doing as much travel as they once were,” Wolverton explained.
He added that this money saving move is just the tip of the iceberg, thanks to the town taking steps to drill down on almost every function of its local government.