Township Partners with ClearGov for Further Financial Transparency
Lower Merion Township, seeking to further its reputation for transparency, has launched a new online “Financial Transparency Center” in cooperation with ClearGov, a company that works with local governments to transform complex financials into easy-to-understand info-graphics. The format allows the Township to detail annual revenues and expenditures, while lending context through other benchmarking comparisons and customizable commentary.
The Township’s ClearGov site contains summarized Township financial data in a graphics-based format. It also contains demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the ability to compare Lower Merion to a group of eight other peer municipalities. The Township will update and expand this platform moving forward. (Note: Much of the information contained on the ClearGov site originates from annual financial forms which municipalities file with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—there may be variations between the ClearGov data and budgeted or audited financial results.)
ClearGov is a Massachusetts firm that provides solutions to help local officials drive transparency and better engage residents. The overall goal is to help translate complex fiscal data into clear, actionable intelligence—for government agencies and the communities they serve. The Township’s ClearGov site currently contains General Fund financial data for 2013-2017, with more to be added in the future.
“Lower Merion Township is committed to financial transparency whether it is through our award-winning budget and financial documents, searchable check registers or new tools such as ClearGov,” said Eric Traub, Lower Merion’s Chief Financial Officer.
Each year for decades now, the Lower Merion Finance Department has received awards from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for its annual Budget document and its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The awards from GFOA are based in part on effectively communicating the Township's budget and financial position to the public and are bestowed on only a small percentage of municipalities in the nation.
In 2012, Lower Merion was the first municipality to receive the “Open Book Award for Transparency in Local Government,” presented by the Suburban REALTORS® Alliance. The Township was chosen from among 238 municipalities in southeastern Pennsylvania (Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties) for its efforts to provide residents and businesses with detailed, up‐to‐date notices about public meetings, ordinances and other information.
On the www.LowerMerion.org website, the Finance Department also maintains all financial presentations that have been presented to the Board of Commissioners for the past several years; the searchable check register; and a clear, concise non-technical summary of the Township’s debt information.