The digital age is coming to Scarsdale’s treasurer’s office.
At a work session on April 20, Village Treasurer Ann Scaglione announced plans to streamline budgetary processes by utilizing existing and new technology. The new financial processes currently underway include updating the design of tax bills and delinquency notices, digitizing internal documents to increase workflow and implementing technology to allow residents to opt in and receive tax bills, receipts and reminder notices via email. The office will also explore tools for multiyear budgeting and budget scenario generation.
“We have so much information that we got from the public, from our two amazing citizen advisory groups with our budget, and I think the public is really looking for more transparency, more information and [ways] to help … our budgeting process,” said Scaglione.
When Scaglione joined the village staff six months ago, the fiscal environment was not in the best place. A worldwide pandemic was pummeling the village’s revenues, there were growing pains with the new two-installment tax payment system and a new budget season was just underway. Currently, the treasurer’s office is “very paper intense,” said Scaglione, especially with the village’s processes for accounts payable and payroll. The idea is to reduce paper and streamline accounts payable and payroll by using technology within this calendar year.
With the 2021-22 tentative budget talks winding down, Scaglione said she’s been reviewing the village’s policies and procedures and has found opportunities for improvements.
“We’ve identified the need, now we just have to do it,” she said.
Scaglione also found that the village wasn’t using its financial software New World to its fullest capacity. In a memo to the board, Scaglione wrote that the software included many features and modules that the village already owned or could purchase to streamline tasks. To modernize the office’s workflow, Scaglione will allow for electronic approval of purchase requisitions, purchase orders and vouchers to eliminate unnecessary paper.
All the changes will build on the current processes with a goal to improve transaction accuracy and have staff “work smarter” using technology, she said.
“There are features that are available to us right now in our software that could ease our burden and make life a little bit easier in terms of processing transactions electronically,” she said. “So, I’m looking to utilize our software to the fullest extent possible and … [add] additional modules … to help automate some tasks.”
The treasurer’s office will do something similar with their enterprise content management system Laserfiche. Scaglione said in her memo that she was working with the assessor’s office to increase user licenses and update the current version of the software to assist with the office’s tax and financial systems.
With a lot of money passing through the treasurer’s office, Scaglione wants to streamline the office’s cash receipts by using a remote desktop scanner through the bank to process lockbox batches. The process will allow the village to keep all the required documents electronically for as long as required.
“We’re going to not only improve accuracy and timeliness but alleviate some of this manual work on our staff,” she said.
When the two-installment tax collection system was approved almost a year ago, it increased the workload for the treasurer’s office. According to the memo, Scaglione said the remote desktop scanner would help make the process more efficient and ensure compliance with the state comptroller’s office.
Based on feedback from a number of residents who missed the new payment deadline, Scaglione said she is already in the process of redesigning the village’s tax bills to clarify when payments are due, how to get into contact with the treasurer’s staff, as well as the penalty schedule and due dates. The village will also allow residents to opt in to emails for their tax bills. Scaglione said she hopes to have those changes completed before the village tax bills are sent in July.
Although there will be a cost to digitize the office’s workflow, Scaglione said it’s not “a material amount” and she has the funds to cover everything the office wanted to accomplish.
“I think we’re going to be OK in 2021-22 because we’ve had some discussions and we’ve put some money in … to make sure we can move this program forward. But I think it’s going to be very important for the village board in [later] years … to continue to support this program financially,” said Village Manager Steve Pappalardo. “Once we get some momentum in terms of automating the treasurer’s office, it feeds on itself and people start to realize the benefits that they’re deriving and how much easier their jobs can be by utilizing what’s available to them technologically — and we want to make sure that we continue that.”
Pappalardo said the treasurer’s office automation could be a “showcase” for other departments as they make technological transitions.
With plans to accomplish so much, Scaglione said she applied and was approved for some part-time help to get the expanded use of technology going, and she has support from Pappalardo and the village’s IT director to hit her goals.
“We have the resources, it’s just a matter of finding the time every day to work on these projects,” she said.