Paris board hears about Web service

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PARIS — Selectmen decided to table a decision on whether to enroll in OpenGov.com, which would put all town financial records online for the public to see, until they do their due diligence on the matter.

A virtual presentation was held Monday night before the regular board meeting with Greg Keeney of OpenGov.

The idea to explore the Redwood City, Calif.-based service was first brought up by Selectman Janet Jamison a few months ago, and selectmen decided to wait to view the presentation until the board was at full capacity.

Keeney said there are 370 municipalities in 40 states utilizing his company’s services, with at least one new partner coming on every day. The customers range from small towns similar to Paris to larger cities, including Detroit, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.

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We’re a mission-driven company. We want this information to be accessible for every single government in the country,” he said. OpenGov builds a custom website for each municipality, he said.

“We build, we post, we manage and maintain (it) for you. It’s very easy for us to interact with your finance system,” Keeney said.

Essentially, any financial piece of data associated with the town can be searched through the system, and five different graphs, along with spreadsheets, can be created and downloaded. Notes and links to documents can be added to the information. Each line item can be broken down by department and the service can also compare past budgets to the current one and project future budgets three to five years down the road.

Whatever you can give us, we can visualize here,” Keeney said. “We’re seeing governments of all sizes, including very small ones, saving hundreds and hundreds (of dollars) a year in staff time.  . . . This is great for residents to learn about where the money is going . . . but it also is a very powerful management tool.  . . . It allows all leaders in government to have fast access to their data and you can make better decisions together as a team.”

Selectman Vic Hodgkins asked how much the service costs.

There’s a one-time $1,000 fee and it would cost $4,000 annually, Keeney answered.

Hodgkins asked about discounts if the town signed on for more than one year and Keeney said there’s a 7.5 percent discount for a two-year enrollment, 10 percent for three years and he could most likely cut the one-time fee in half to $500.

Resident Chris Bass wanted to know the closest towns that utilize this service and if Paris could compare itself to other towns of similar size enrolled in OpenGov.

Keeney said the closest municipalities include Keene, N.H., Nantucket, Mass., and Westport, Conn., noting comparisons are available and can be found through Google.

Resident Terry Robinson said she thinks there’s a lot of cool things the town could do with the service, but cautioned selectmen to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.

I think that is something I would categorize as a bells and whistle sort of thing I would love to have,” she said.

Hodgkins said he wanted to hear from residents and whether or not they would use it.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Robert Wessels said he thinks it’s a great service but wondered if the town could do it for less than $4,000 a year.

Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Mike Risica made a motion to table the issue until the board’s next meeting so selectmen could digest all of the information presented to them. It unanimously passed.

OpenGov will be revisited at the Monday, Aug. 24, selectmen meeting.

eplace@sunmediagroup.net

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