Plattsburgh, N.Y., Inks Deal with OpenGov Budgeting Software

The city has penned an agreement with the budgeting-and-performance cloud operator that will charge $18,000 annually with a $4,000 startup fee. OpenGov has been on the city’s radar for some time.

by Mckenzie Delisle, Press-Republican / October 30, 2019
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(TNS) — Plattsburgh, N.Y., has penned an agreement with a budgeting-and-performance cloud operator that will charge $18,000 annually with a $4,000 start-up fee.

OpenGov, as well as other similar cloud systems, have been on the City of Plattsburgh's radar for some time.

Back in March, representatives of the group presented its software to both the Common Council and the public during a special meeting.

At the time, the city had its eye on a package that would cost an annual $49,000 plus a one-time $15,000 implementation fee.

"The package that we wound up with is scaled back quite a bit from what you may recall from our previous considerations," City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong (D-Ward 1) said at a recent council session.

"I believe that we will see the benefits and draw in other components of the software later."

Effective and Accountable

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, OpenGov operates throughout all 50 states and was founded in 2012 as a response to the 2008 financial crisis.

"Our founder was working with grant funding out in California," Account Executive David Spolidoro had told the council earlier this year. "He was working with cities and towns out in California that were having a really difficult time.

"Among a lot of reasons, one of them was outdated technology," he continued. "So, we are 100 percent on a mission to power more effective and accountable government."

21st Century

OpenGov software benefits were expected in the budgeting and planning, operational-performance and citizen-engagement sectors.

That would include, Spolidoro had said, inputting all City of Plattsburgh financial data into a single online platform to be made accessible to constituents and updated in real time.

Armstrong, who has been behind this effort for some 18 months, was happy the city had made the step towards a more transparent government.

"I think it was a rigorous process that we went through in reviewing this offer," Armstrong said. "I thank Councilor Jeff Moore (D-Ward 6) for helping out and providing an excellent sounding board for all of the issues surrounding this.

"I'm really happy that we're going to have the opportunity to be in the 21st century with regard to the way that we look at our accounts," she continued.

"That's not to say that our dear Chamberlain (Richard) Marks won't be doing the same work that he always does, but the way in which it's translated to us and the public I think will be much more useful."

Seven-Year Contract

Based on OpenGov's earlier estimate, Mayor Colin Read had said the annual return could be about 10 times the software's annual cost.

The now signed contract has a seven-year term that can be terminated with a 90-day notice of non-appropriation and came in at less than half of the initial estimate.

Mayor Read attributed that price change to a lost feature.

The city's departments won't be able to formulate budgets within the OpenGov software, he said.

"Instead, we will use the traditional way that is working out very well this year, given the new committee structure," Read said.

"The seven-year duration allows us to lock in that price, but there is also a clause that we can exit the contract with relatively short notice."

By Year's End

The city, with help from an intern, has started integrating its current system with OpenGov.

With Armstrong's second four-year term as city councilor coming to a close, Read said he hoped the system would have some functionality before Jan. 1.

"I'd like to see her see some of the results," he said. "I'm optimistic we can get OpenGov working in time for Councilor Armstrong's departure, so the public can start using it soon, as well."

©2019 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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