It’s all in the numbers and the simpler they are – the easier they are to understand. That is why Munetrix uses a single digit number as a barometer to gauge the financial health – or stress – of local governments and school districts.
We use Michigan’s single digit Fiscal Scoring System, augmented by our color-coded highlights. It makes for an eye catching display that is easy to understand. Financially healthy jurisdictions tend to have a smaller number, highlighted in green, while their stressed counterparts tend to have a larger number, highlighted in red.
This methodology allows for quick identification of those who may be taking a turn for the worse, highlighted in blue, while giving them enough time to avoid a problem. These data representations are a tool to help jurisdictions make educated, fact-based decisions about their finances. They also give a clear, concise financial picture to government officials and the people they serve.
Think of Munetrix like a trip to the doctor. If your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are low, that’s great! But if those levels are high, you may have some serious issues looming your doctor would want to conduct more tests and recommend corrective measures.
A Fiscal Scoring System works much the same way. Just like a blood pressure or cholesterol check, the numbers don’t necessarily indicate the full nature of the problem, and further analysis may be necessary. Better safe than sorry!
We’re accustomed to seeing things measured on a single digit scale. On a scale of 1-10, “How much pain are you in? What is your risk level? She’s a 10! How satisfied were you with your purchase?” And on-and-on. Responses to these inquiries lead to action by the person or organization that asks.
The same applies with Munetrix. It can’t make the tough decisions for you, but gives you the best ability see problems in advance, allowing you to make data backed decisions. The importance of managing by the numbers cannot be over-stated.
Munetrix is designed to allow you to see the impact of different budget scenarios against you “health rankings” while running as many variables as you want. This allows you to see far enough down the road so not only is the hazard visible, you have time to avoid it.
Are there exceptions? Sure there are.
Sometimes, a jurisdiction’s financial picture might not be quite as bleak as the number indicates. Special circumstances, anomalies and one-time events can easily be explained in the Custom Notes feature built into the Munetrix database.
And what about those that are doing well – as many are? The news isn’t always bad! There are a lot of well run municipalities and schools that do not get recognition.
Munetrix clearly shows who is doing a good job managing their taxpayers money and the service levels. Every picture tells a story, and there are a lot of good pictures and stories to tell!
At the end of the day, if your doctor tells you that your blood pressure and cholesterol is high, don’t think jogging to the burger joint is going to help. Take your medicine, the necessary corrective measures, and measure your results.
Bob Kittle is co-founder of Munetrix and an elected official in Oakland County, Mich., one of the nation’s largest and most economically diverse counties. He is also an organizational strategist and business coach.